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The Peculiar Productivity Philosophy of A Man Who Spends His Days Walking Through Japan

by | Sep 20, 2021 | Life Hacks

Imagine dedicating most of your life to long walks in Japan.

That’s what Craig Mod did as a writer. I’ve studied his approach recently and discovered his version of productivity is truly bizarre.

The most interesting thing I learned from Craig is that walking is how he changes his state. He typically does his work (writing) at night. Walking for most of the day before he starts work is how he discovers higher states of consciousness. A long walk becomes like a platform from which he builds each day off.

Obviously not all of us can walk from 9-5 and then come home and work for four hours. But Craig’s bizarre philosophy on productivity contains helpful ways to rethink how you experience time.

Don’t become the meta-version of yourself

This one slapped me in the face. Instead of doing the work that makes you productive, it’s easier to become the meta-version of yourself. If your goal is to write a book and all you do is write about how to write a book, you’ve become meta-you.

You feel productive because you’re producing something. But the thing you’re producing doesn’t scratch the itch of your curiosity or tick off the goals that give you meaning.

Meta-productivity is simply an illusion. It’s a strange form of self-help which means it will attract people to you and that strokes your ego. The feeling you get becomes addictive. You go from work you’ve wanted to do your entire life, to a meta-productivity distraction that slowly eats away at parts of your life like a cancer.

I see it with online writers all the time. They spend so much time writing about how to make money online writing that they don’t actually write anything worth reading. They simply become meta copycats running on a hamster wheel to nowhere. They could be, instead, writing about what interests them.

Don’t fall for meta-productivity. Do productive work that gives you meaning and fulfills your curiosity’s desires.

Adopt rules-based productivity

On each walk Craig does he sets different rules. One rule he has on walks is no social media or podcasts.

He experimented with another rule that said he could only use technology to record the sounds of his walk. Even if his walk finished late and he was tired, the rule meant he had to upload his recordings before he could go to sleep. Magically his dream of an entire podcast full of nature sounds came to life because he had rules in place to bulldoze his excuses.

Rules create boundaries. Boundaries produce different results and gamify the tasks you’re trying to complete. When productivity is a game it’s easier to enjoy the process. The predictability that makes you bored and procrastinate goes out the window.

Write down a list of rules you can try. Apply rules to different days to see which ones make your output higher or the quality of your work better.

Ban a task for entire months like a badass

On one planned walk Craig eliminated two entire months from doing any phone calls. Most of you reading this don’t have the luxury to hide in a cave for two months and do whatever you want.

But could you ban a task for a month to see what it does to you?

One task I’ve banned before is podcasts. I find they add no value to my life and I regret doing them. So for entire years I simply ban them from my life. Without the distraction of random podcasts in my calendar that stresses me out, I’m able to focus on the work that matters.

Ban a task for 30 days to give focus to something else. You may find you ban the task for life if the results are awesome.

Use the “today view”

Craig says he mostly uses the today view in his productivity apps and calendar. I found that interesting. I’ve recently shifted my life to Roam Research. Most of my time is spent on the current day’s view. Anxiety comes from the future. Depression comes from looking at the past. What if you spent more time on “today’s view?”

Think of a newsletter as a sketchbook

Substack has them, Twitter has them, ConvertKit has them, Facebook will have them. Newsletters are popular because people love to make money online.

Craig doesn’t see his three newsletters as an income source, though. They’re his sketchbooks. He writes a newsletter to think. Once his thinking is clarified he becomes more productive with his other work.

What if you started a newsletter as a productivity hack?

Choose a cheap form of therapy to be productive

Productive work is exhausting. Craig likes to have a cheap form of therapy. His is to write code. Mine is to collect thoughts in Roam Research.

A mindless task most people don’t understand, that may not serve your goals, helps you do a warm down after the marathon of productive work. Find a task that interests you and has no value other than to take your mind off work. Distractions help beat procrastination and burnout.


Craig Mod taught me that walks intertwined with productivity complement one another perfectly. A walk is the precursor to a flow state that produces some of the best work of your life.

Think of it like this: Walks are part of “the work.” That’s Craig’s bizarre philosophy on productivity.

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