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Ways lock down changed my life for the better: one year on

Updated: Jun 12, 2021

Over one year after the first lock down started, I have now finished my A Levels and officially completed school. Having done 6 years in primary school and 7 years in secondary, I am now moving onto the 3rd chapter of my life. And this has got me thinking back to last and very strange year. Unusually, I like to think I benefited from the half a year of lock down despite the restrictions around socialising, going out and just everything I thought I valued (and of course the uncertainties, deaths and damages). Here are the main ways lock down changed my life for the better.

Signing up to Skillshare (not sponsored!)

Feeling like I'd have a lot of time on my hands, I decided to sign up to a 2 month free trial on Skillshare having watched a YouTube video. At this point I wasn't at all into the 'productivity side' of YouTube, I'm pretty sure I signed up of the back of a Wendover Productions video. Anyway, at that time I was aware of my looming exams and Ali Abdaal's class on how to study for exams conveniently appeared on my feed. The most impactful thing that I took away from the class was how to streamline my exam preparation and I can say for sure that I have reduced the time I spend preparing for exams significantly. See how his strategies helped me with my exams here.

Watching Ali's class on Skillshare was my entry point into the world of productivity. Since then, I have been watching all of Ali's videos as well as other creators like Thomas Frank from whom I have gleaned much useful and actionable tips that have improved my life (discussed in the next section). Other than being the springboard for my interest into the productivity sphere, I found many (usually early) videos of Ali's to be helpful in my dentistry application. Despite the fact that Ali's videos were more tailored to medical students, some videos, especially around interviews were pretty useful and I thoroughly enjoyed watching his med school vlogs. Equally, his videos alerted me to the field of 'medical youtubers' which I was not aware of before and whose videos have helped along my with my application. However, I would say what really benefited me from watching those kind of videos was that they inspired me to create systems in my life.


There is a lot of criticism towards the productivity and self help advice and I feel that a significant amount of it is valid. However, having consumed and put into action much of the advice, I have benefited in several different ways.

First, reading about motivation and habits has really changed my mindset on doing new things and improving upon them. I used to find that I was very bad at sticking to new habits. For example, I did try to learn computer science and Spanish but I only managed to do that for a short while. Now, having been exposed to a lot of self help literature, I find that I do stick to new habits more easily. I've managed to internalise the idea that if you do anything for a very long time you will be successful. A very good mindset to have is to prioritise consistency over everything- as long as you are consistent you will be successful. Along a similar vein, internalising the idea that action comes before motivation has also helped me to get a lot more stuff done. Read my post (linked above) on what I learnt from The Motivation Myth.

Second, I started to use calendars and todo lists which have completely changed my life. Before, I never really wrote things down or I just used the default notes and calendar app on my phone. Inevitably I forgot things and found it hard to keep on top of things. Currently, I am using Google Calendar and Todoist. Both are so much better than the default apps on your phone mostly because they sync across all your devices. Another thing I love about Google Calendar is the pretty good natural language processing and the various chrome extensions which make it very easy to record an event. Todoist is a pretty standard to do app also with pretty good natural language processing. I would highly recommend everyone at least try to use a todo list and calendar- I guarantee you will get a lot more done and have a lot more structure in your life.

Similarly, I developed the habit of note taking and reading. Discovering sites like Remnote and Notion were completely game changing- read the linked posts to find out more. Actually, I started this blog as a result of the copious amounts of notes I had knocking around.

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