3 Super Secrets to Beat Foes of Productivity – Procrastination & Distraction

Everything is in Torah.

Like the Three Secrets to Beat Procrastination & Distraction.

Hillel – the great Torah sage – teaches us to beat these foes of productivity.

הוא היה אומר, אם אין אני לי, מי לי. וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני. ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי:

He [Rabbi Hillel] used to say: If I am not for me, who will be for me? And when I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, then when? (Pirkei Avot 1:14)

I write this because I fall into the trap as well.

Here are the three secrets – then I will relate them to Hillel’s dictum.

1. Remove Emotions from the Equation

2. Make a List of 10 things you want to accomplish in the Day and focus on three.

3. Start with 5 minutes of the undesired task.

Here are explanations on Hillel’s three pieces of advice.

If I am not for me, who will be for me?

Many a time I procrastinate because I don’t feel like calling or dealing with someone or dealing with a problem. My emotions stop me from progressing. So I have 2 or 3 options 1. To listen to my emotions and procrastinate. 2. Overcome my emotions. 3. Remove my emotions. I act like “Spock” – a person who acts on logic – not emotions and make my feelings of not wanting to make that call irrelevant.

How do I do so? I think that it is irrelevant what the other person will say. It only matters what my job is. Meaning – that if I have a responsibility to do something positive (as dictated by the Torah) – it is irrelevant what the other person will react. I have to accomplish my purpose in my life. What other people think is not my problem.

Let’s take an example – I have to eat Kosher. I have to have a lunch meeting with the boss. Now what will the boss say if he invites me to a fancy restaurant and I can’t eat there because I eat Kosher. So I can push off my meeting or tell the boss – I can only eat in a Kosher restaurant. I am responsible for my actions as told in the Torah. If I am concerned of what will other people think – it is a recipe for self-erasure. Blending into the crowd. Becoming a robot of society.

And when I am for myself alone, what am I?

Obviously I have to accomplish my purpose in such a way by acting in accordance to Torah values – ie, by not stepping on others shoes, by not hurting other’s feelings, by not acting dishonestly, etc.

By acting according to my whims and feelings is in a sense relatively selfish. If I can help another person and I relegate myself to playing video game or surfing on amazon or checking my whatsapp every 2 minutes – I lose the opportunity of helping others.

Thus I must get organized and make my priorities. One way to do such is an idea from Warren Buffet – of Berkshire Hathaway – one of the richest people in the world – given to his Executive Jet pilot. He said make a list of 25 things or goals you want to accomplish. Rank the 5 most important ones. Take care of those five. As for the other 20 forbid yourself to take care of them until you accomplish the first 5.

We distract ourselves with not only things that are not our goals – but things that are our goals but of a lesser priority. If we focus on our main goals – we help ourselves and other people.

And if not now, then when?

If I don’t take care of something right away, I may end up using time allocated for another purpose. Thus I must focus on getting things done on time in the proper time. How? I don’t feel like doing certain things. Now what?

A simple solution is to start 5 minutes of the undesired task. Once you get the ball rolling it is easier to continue.

If there is a will there is a way to be more productive and accomplish your purpose. You can do it.

 

 

God Will Open Doors for You

It was a windy day. I was walking down the alley to enter a building. The Door swung open, I walked right in. The Door closed. No – it wasn’t an automatic door – the wind blew it open.

I attended a fund raising seminar given by Rabbi and Executive Director of Aish HaTorah, New York – Rabbi Yitzi Greenman. Once he was in the office of a wealthy individual. The man said to him – “Okay Rabbi what do you want? How much Ten-Thousand? a Hundred Thousand?” The rabbi responded – “I don’t want your money.” The rich man was surprised. “You came here to raise money. So what do you really want?” The rabbi responded “I want you. If I have you, you will give me the money that I need for my organization.”

Many people in the world have problems. Others seem to be blessed by God. Even though they do not have a large combined salary – make ends meet. Their children are successful and respectful. Their prayers are answered. They lead a happy life.

What’s the difference between these types of people?

The simple answer is found in parasha / Torah Reading of Teruma. It says there (Shemot / Exodus 25:2) – “And you shall take for Me a portion…” God tells Moses to ask the Jewish people who give a donation for the Tabernacle – where the Divine Presence rested. Instead of saying “Give Me a portion” it Says “Take for Me.” In the Hebrew it can be read as “Take Me.” And end of the verse it states “Take My Portion.” Apparently one who “acquires” Hash-m / G-d, G-d Will do the bidding of that person.

It says in Ethics of the Fathers / Pirkei Avot chapter 2:4 regarding – Doing the Will of Hash·m:

He (Rabban Gamliel) used to say, make His [G·d’s / Hash·m’s] will as your will in order that He will make your will as His will. Nullify your will before His will in order that He will nullify the will of others because of your will.

How does one “acquire” Hash-m / G-d? It states the answer further on in the parasha – “You shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell among you.” (Shemot / Exodus 25:8) If one makes his house or himself into a “sanctuary” – a place of purity, a place where Torah is the foundation, a place where the family observes Shabbat together – one will be able to “acquire” G-d. If one acquires G-d, G-d opens up his unlimited bank account of blessing to that person.

What are the foundations of the Torah? For Jews – it is observing the code of Jewish law / Shulchan Aruch. For Gentiles it is observing the Seven Noahide laws from the Torah.

It is also acquired by following Daat Torah / Torah philosophy. One has an important question, one asks the opinion a great Torah sage. Doing so he or she attaches him or her self to the Torah and thus to God.

If one has a question of which school should one place their children – a Public School or a Torah Day School; whether a potential mate would make a good marriage partner; which community is good for a Jewish family to live – consulting a great Torah scholar is in Order. They will lead you to the right direction – and to ultimately a happy life.

Pray for truth
Once an African American Lady had an appointment with my friend – an Optometrist. She exclaimed happily that she was following the Seven Noahide laws from the Torah. He asked her what made her take that decision? She replied – her former “god” did not answer her prayers. When she prayed to Hash-m / G-d of the Jewish People, He would answer. That’s when she decided to follow the Seven Noahide laws from the Torah.

Wisdom of a Torah Sage – The Key to a Happy Marriage
Once a couple came to Rabbi Aryeh Levine – The Tzadik of Jerusalem. They explained they were having difficulties in their marriage and they wanted to divorce according to Jewish law. He told them to come back in three months and then he would be able to issue a Get / Jewish Divorce Document. Before they left, he asked them their names. The husband responded – his name is Avraham and her name, Hanna. Rabbi Levine said to the husband – do Me a favor – for the next three months instead of a calling your wife Hanna, call her “Hanna’le” (An endearing term – equivalent to Hanna, my Dear.) Three months passed and the couple never came back.

Apparently – the wife received the appreciation she sought and the man – could not get angry if he had to call his wife Hanna’le (Hanna, my dear).

The wisdom of a Torah sage – saved a marriage with one small piece of advice.

When Friends Forget Friends or Buddies Become Bitter

Remember the good old days. You used to go out with your friend regularly. You had good times and bad together.

They are still a friend on social media. You bump into them sometimes. “Wow. It’s so good to see you! We have to stay in touch. Let’s get together sometimes!”

But you call them at the office the secretary says: “Let me check if they’re here. I think I saw him in the office…” Pause. “Oh, I’m sorry he’s in a meeting right now. Would you like to leave a message?”

No returned phone calls. No response to texts.

“I hope he’s still alive” – You think.

Calling his cell phone it goes immediately to answering service.

Yes, you grew apart over the years. He went his way and you went your way.

Perhaps you became more Torah observant.

What do you do?

I believe a true friend is a friend forever. They are there for you when you are in need and not in need.

A good friend will answer your phone calls regardless if they are busy. They will return your phone calls. Answering phone calls of people you know – I feel is common courtesy. Even more so friends.

Making Peace
If you left things off on bad terms – make peace. If you left on good terms & if the relationship is worthwhile – so try to patch things up. Speak with a third friend to be an intermediary. Visit them when they have a good occasion or a Shiva / 7 days of mourning. Send them Shanna Tova Cards and Jewish Holiday Cards.

Don’t give up. Because they are not friendly – doesn’t mean you should do the same.

Life Goes On
In any case – life goes on.

Your main concern in life should be your own family and taking care of their material, emotional and spiritual needs. Help them to Grow in Torah in Mitzvot.

Gain pleasure from their growth.

Should you become bitter yourself because they don’t answer you? Sorry – Not worth the mental anguish. Make new friends – those that care for you materially, emotionally and spiritually. People that will help you grow in Torah.

And your old friends – pray to Hash-m for their best. At least when you were younger you had a good time with them – and that’s a reason to be still thankful to them – regardless of how they act now.

Look at the good. Be thankful to Hash-m for what you have. Be thankful for your current friends, for your family and your Jewish community. If old friends answer you good. If not – you become a better person by not becoming bitter.

Don’t become bitter – based upon the actions or reactions of people.

Change Rejection – to a Positive Outcome
I needed change for the meter the other day. I asked people on the street for change for a dollar. Most people said “Sorry. I have no change.”

Just like that “rejection” of giving change is not a reason to become upset or evaluate myself negatively – perhaps they really didn’t have change – an old friend who refuses to communicate with you is not a reason to become upset or evaluate yourself negatively – perhaps they don’t realize the value of being in contact with you. Usually it is their loss.

Perhaps one day they will need you and you will respond kindly, without resentment. Without a grudge. They will realize the folly of their giving you the cold shoulder.

Love Your Fellow Jew
The Torah says to love your fellow Jew. Like it says “Ve’ahavta Le’reacha Kamocha”Love your fellow as yourself (Vayikra / Leviticus 19:18).

Live according to Torah ideals – in which your actions are guided by what Hash-m / G-d thinks of you rather than what others think of you.

G-d wants you to love His children. Your love ultimately makes you a better person.

Parasha VaYigash – Talking Kind Words & Not Getting Angry

Using Kind Words

It says in Parasha Vayigash:
*And Yehuda Approached, Let your servant please speak a word in your ears, for you are like Pharaoh…* (Bereshit 44:18) Yehuda approached Yosef to convince him to take him instead of Binyamin, his brother, as a slave. To convince him, he first tried to approach him in with kind words.

The best approach to convince a person is using kind words. Thus he used them first.

Segula Against Anger

Yehuda wanted to remain calm when talking to Yosef.

In this pasuk is an allusion to a Segula against anger – the pasuk recited at a time of anger to calm a person down – in some of the seemingly extra words – bi, na, al, ke. Bet, Yud, Nun, Alef, Alef, Lamed, Kaf – are the first letters of found in the Pasuk of Tehillim 119:9. (Ball Shem Tov).