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EXECUTION Action Faker to Action Taker

Nick M.

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Hi Everyone,

I've come to realize lately that I've been doing lots of action faking. In an effort to fix that, I'm going to start a 90 Day Action Taking Challenge.

Here's the plan:

Most of my work is done on the computer. So I installed Timing, which is an app that keeps track of the amount of time you spend doing things. It also gives you a productivity score to show how well you spent your time.

Now I can measure my Action Taking!

At the end of each day I'll report in to this thread with the day's results. That way, I'm held accountable for the next 90 days (even if no one reads this, I'll still have to keep it up).

The goal: > 10 hours/day with > 90% productivity score.

Week 1 Goal: For this first week, I'm going to get a baseline and see what I actually spend time on. Not necessarily going to aim for a high score. Just do things as normal so I can start the change.

Why 90 Days? I remember reading in one of MJ's books that there are a lot of people who come on this forum ready to start their journey and then drop off a couple days later. Doing 90 days to prevent that.

I'll post today's results tonight.

Of course, comments and feedback are always accepted.

P.S. Thanks to Crazy GG for the inspiration with his 90 Day Cold Calling Challenge.

Edit: Other than having accountability for my own improvement, I also wanted to make this thread to help other people (like maybe you) to fix action faking. I believe that it's something that everyone can overcome, and perhaps sharing my progress of systematically improving action taking will help others with their endeavors.
 

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Nick M.

Nick M.

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Ok. So apparently I am far less productive than I thought, even though I thought I was quite unproductive recently. I think the main culprit was that I got in some interesting debates with friends which sucked up lots of time. That's something to fix in the future.

Time: 2:05
Productivity: 44%

I know I said the goal of this week is to get a baseline, but I need to do a better job tomorrow. Less than an hour of real work a day is not going to cut it. Priorities have to change.
 
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Nick M.

Nick M.

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Time 5:08
Productivity 55%

Better than yesterday, but still not close to good enough. Definitely got good things done today, though. I can start to imagine how fast I can make progress if I actually complete my goal of working 10 hours a day.

2 Lessons Learned
1) I have a habit for procrastination when there is something else that will take time (e.g. waiting for an email response). In other words, I need to figure out how to get things done even when there is something that is stalling progress on one aspect.
2) Biggest distraction was YouTube (not too surprising). However, it was a full 1 hour 17 minutes. That's a lot! Now I need to figure out the cue/reward for YouTube to replace that habit to something that is actually useful.
 

MoneyPhantom

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This one may help you:
GOLD! - Achieve Laser FOCUS + PRODUCTIVITY With The System Legendary Fastlaners Use...

LightHouse's GSD system lets you keep things that you're waiting for 'on hold' and however, not forget about them. In conjunction with a Pomodoro timer (there are a lot of them out there - try until you find any that fits your needs) you have the YouTube reward system you're looking for.

Feel free to adjust the timer to your preferences (e.g. 45/10 mins for me instead).
 
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Nick M.

Nick M.

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Time 3:19
Productivity 44%

Again, not close to stellar results. The reasons for not being productive are basically the same as the last two days. Good to know that it's consistent. We'll see if those trends follow through over the next couple days. If so, then next week I'll tackle one of them to focus on.

LightHouse's GSD system lets you keep things that you're waiting for 'on hold' and however, not forget about them. In conjunction with a Pomodoro timer (there are a lot of them out there - try until you find any that fits your needs) you have the YouTube reward system you're looking for.
Read through the Trello idea quickly. I think I'll spend some time tomorrow implementing it to see what happens. Thanks.

Probably a better way to word what I meant about YouTube is that it's almost definitely a habit. And one that I want to break. I want to better understand the habit so I know how to fix it. The cue and reward are the two parts of YouTube that I don't fully understand in my case (i.e. what emotion is making me want to go to YouTube and how YouTube solves that emotion). The routine is watching videos itself.
 

MoneyPhantom

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Probably a better way to word what I meant about YouTube is that it's almost definitely a habit. And one that I want to break. I want to better understand the habit so I know how to fix it. The cue and reward are the two parts of YouTube that I don't fully understand in my case (i.e. what emotion is making me want to go to YouTube and how YouTube solves that emotion). The routine is watching videos itself.
In short: It's action faking (or procrastination as it has always been called). Reward for no (real) action.

I'd rather think in terms of what holds me back from doing the real work that gets and keeps you moving instead of focusing what you get out of YouTube. It's always better to focus on a new habit instead of focusing on breaking an existing one.
 

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Nick M.

Nick M.

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Time 6:13
Productivity 62%

Lessons Learned:
1) I can work for long periods of time without breaks. That's good. Now the question becomes why is it easy sometimes to work for several hours on end sometimes but not others?
2) I have a habit of switching quickly between things before completing any one thing (not always, but definitely more than I should). My thought process has been "I should work on that instead because it's more important". I think I'll need to clearly prioritize what I do before I start working. Then I know I'm doing the most important thing.

In short: It's action faking (or procrastination as it has always been called). Reward for no (real) action.

I'd rather think in terms of what holds me back from doing the real work that gets and keeps you moving instead of focusing what you get out of YouTube. It's always better to focus on a new habit instead of focusing on breaking an existing one.
That makes perfect sense. Today I setup Trello and started using the system that you linked to. It was much easier to start doing real work seeing it all laid out in front of me. I used to use todo lists then stopped because they would lead to endless lists of fake work. This method is more goal oriented and solves most of the issues I've had with todo lists.

I also like how easily it implements The One Thing. That should help with lesson 2.

Let's see how this goes over the next few days.

What constitutes productivity?
The Timing app outputs this score based on how long you were doing "productive" things. So if I spend 6 hours doing work and 4 hours with distractions, the productivity score is 60%.

I have it set up so that it only counts things that are productive for me increase the score. For instance, this forum I'm counting as not productive (while helpful, browsing the forum all day doesn't get anything done). Reading is counted as not productive. While I enjoy reading/learning and believe that learning new things is valuable, I've been caught in the trap of reading book after book with little implementation. Time spent coding on VS Code, however, is productive because right now that aligns with my goals.

Some activities are also weighted. Like email is necessary but is not the most efficient use of time.

Hope that answers your question.
 
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Nick M.

Nick M.

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Time 4:34
Productivity 55%

Overall today was similar to past days. However, I really learned the importance of chunking. I had a graphic I needed to design which I knew would take 4-5 hours (not quite done yet) and kept putting it off. Basically, because it was such a big task, procrastination was easier.

Tomorrow, I'm going to make sure no single task is more than 30-45 minutes. If it is, I'll break it down into smaller chunks.

Anyone else have good ideas on how to get started with larger tasks?
 

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So you're getting around 5 hours of screen time, half of it is "productive' and half of it is not.

What are you doing the other 11 hours you're awake?

Also, I think your approach is completely wrong. Get a pomodoro timer and use it. Shoot for 12 pomodoro a day minimum. I'm guessing you're starting somewhere around 5. I use Kanbanflow, so I can see how much time was spent on any given task. It's basically trello with an integrated timer.

This nebulous definition of productive isn't going to tell you a whole lot, other than what you already know: you're not putting in the level of work you want.
 

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Nick M.

Nick M.

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Time 4:03
Productivity 64%

So you're getting around 5 hours of screen time, half of it is "productive' and half of it is not.

What are you doing the other 11 hours you're awake?

Also, I think your approach is completely wrong. Get a pomodoro timer and use it. Shoot for 12 pomodoro a day minimum. I'm guessing you're starting somewhere around 5. I use Kanbanflow, so I can see how much time was spent on any given task. It's basically trello with an integrated timer.

This nebulous definition of productive isn't going to tell you a whole lot, other than what you already know: you're not putting in the level of work you want.
Okay, lowtek. I think I see where you're coming from. Evaluating the time I spent at the end of each day with (I'll agree) an ambiguous definition of productivity is not a process for getting more done. It's a static number at the end of each day, not a system to get things done.

Week 2 Goal: 12 Pomodoros a day (at least) using the GSD system linked to above

Since this is the goal, I'll start reporting in on number of Pomodoros and thoughts with how the process is going and not emphasizing screen-time or the "productivity" score as much.

Thank you to everyone who has given advice so far. I really do appreciate it.
 
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Nick M.

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Pomorodos 11

Much more time spent today, much more progress. Not quite the 12 pomodoros I was aiming for, but now I know what that much work is starting to feel like. I will do 12 tomorrow for sure.

For those who use Trello, I found a Pomodoro timer that integrates with Trello. It's Pomodoro timer for your productivity tool: Trello, Asana, Todoist, Evernote - PomoDoneApp. It's nice because the timer will automatically run in the background, and you can time how long you are working on certain tasks (tasks created in Trello). Based on just what I've used with it today, I would recommend it.
 
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Nick M.

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Pomodoros 12!

Not much to add here except that I got to today's Pomodoro goal.
 
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Nick M.

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Pomodoros 12

Back at it with 12 pomodoros and getting things checked off my GSD.

Also, found out that the Pomodoro timer that I linked to above has both desktop and phone apps, so no need to keep a browser window open.

Lessons Learned:

1) Taking action is much easier with a system in place to take action. Instead of looking at what I need to achieve in the next several hours, focusing on a button to start a pomodoro is much easier.
2) Make sure that each pomodoro connects with one of your goals. I'm going to start implementing this tomorrow, but it is easy to get work done (especially with a long list in inbox) without aiming at a specific goal. This isn't any better than procrastination.
3) Have the discipline to continue a task until either the pomodoro ends or the task is finished. My most productive pomodoros so far have been where I've stuck with the one task and not switched between different things.
 

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Congrats!

Great to read that it didn't take you more that some advice on systems and just a week to reach some more productive hours every day.

Keep it up and go even further!
 
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Nick M.

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Pomodoros 10*

*Technically I did 12 yesterday, but I realized afterwards that the last two are tangents and not really productive. I'm extremely curious and went down the rabbit hole of learning during those last pomodoros.

Congrats!

Great to read that it didn't take you more that some advice on systems and just a week to reach some more productive hours every day.

Keep it up and go even further!
Thanks.

I guess I should share a bit more about myself as that could be interesting and useful.

I'm currently a 4th year in college as a trombone performance and music composition double major. A couple weeks ago, I had either a very strong FTM or maybe a FTE and started working on a fastlane business idea. I realized that I wasn't getting much done because I was just not putting in the effort required, so I started this forum.

I think one of the reasons why I've gotten far more productive with just some advise is that as a trombone major, that's what you need to do. You get an hour lesson each week and then have to practice 3 hours each day to get better for next week's lesson. This is good in the sense that I have really learned how to optimize my practice over time. So I think those skills have bled over so far into this once you and a couple others pointed in in the right direction. I also know I can put in effort day after day, which really helps.

The main struggle comes in that as a trombonist, I can only practice 3 hours a day. Any more leads to injury (which I've also done and recovered from).

Right now, I'm still in college since my parents are able to pay for it debt free and I get free housing. Even though classes (and mainly rehearsals) take up several hours each day, I'm trying to increase my productivity here and hopeful results in a fastlane business so I can do this full time. Luckily I'm almost done with the classes I need so I can take about the minimum workload possible.

What are you doing the other 11 hours you're awake?
Yeah, so school is part of it. However, that doesn't take anywhere close to 11 hours each day. There's room for more pomodoros next week!
 
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Nick M.

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Pomodoros 6

Okay, couple things here:
1) There are some days that school related activities just take proportionally way more time than most other days. Today and tomorrow are two of those days. That accounts for the low workload today (and probably tomorrow). There are two ways I can fix this in the long term.

First, I need to shift my priorities more. If I'm going to get to 10 hours a day, then having days where I have 8 hours of other things (plus normal day-to-day things like eating) is not going to cut it. Even though today was probably not the most efficient with the time I did have, 18 hours of things plus work is not feasible because sleep is important for productivity.

Second, if I am going to have days where I have lots of school related things, then I need to make up for it on other days. If I'm not getting 12 pomodoros every day, I should get 12 pomodoros per day on average.

2) Didn't post anything yesterday for the simple reason that I got so ingrained in what I was doing that I forgot about the timer after the first one. Discipline. Pomodoros don't just give you a process for starting work, but a process for making the work meaningful.

3) I should concentrate my efforts on the most important thing, not just what feels easiest to do. I have been lacking on that lately.

Overall, things from the last 2 days comes down to not making excuses and just getting things done.

Progress is made through sustained effort every day, not lots of effort every now and then.
 

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Hey bytecode. I like the thread you have going and I would like to start one myself. I did in the past but I didn't follow through. I want to restart a progress tracking thread soon. In reading your thread, you really remind me of me. I use Pomodoros as well, and my biggest distraction is Youtube. My best times of abstinence was actually blocking it (my gf controls the password) and temporarily unblocks it as a sort of reward time. What's your long term goal? Do you have a business idea yet? Also, what are you studying?
 
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Nick M.

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Pomodoros 12

Yesterday wasn't great at all.

In an effort to combat the dismal performance on some days, this week's goal will be to have an average of 12 pomodoros a day.

So if I don't put in the time one day, I have to make it up the next.

Also, I will respond to the two comments above in the morning.
 

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Nick M.

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Pomodoros 11

Going to have to do 13 tomorrow. I think I'll aim for 14 for fun.

Hey bytecode. I like the thread you have going and I would like to start one myself. I did in the past but I didn't follow through. I want to restart a progress tracking thread soon. In reading your thread, you really remind me of me. I use Pomodoros as well, and my biggest distraction is Youtube. My best times of abstinence was actually blocking it (my gf controls the password) and temporarily unblocks it as a sort of reward time. What's your long term goal? Do you have a business idea yet? Also, what are you studying?
Best of luck to you.

With YouTube, honestly just focusing on finishing each pomodoro and only doing YouTube on breaks has worked well for me. It's really easy to wait when you have to wait only 15 minutes.

I'm studying music (trombone performance and composition). As for business idea, my current plan is Amazon FBA. There is a lot on the internet about how to do it, so I've researched quite a bit of what I could find. Now I know that much of the information is aimed at "get rich easy" type people, so I'm taking any advice with a grain of salt and focusing more on the mechanics Amazon. But I definitely see Amazon as having a huge market potential.

I have found a product category where I believe I can easily skew the value proposition in my favor.

I'm going this route because it should be fairly easy to start to get a feel on the fundamentals of business (like product creation, distribution, sales copy, etc.) and may end up moving to a better business once this makes profit. Part of that will be because Amazon FBA does not follow the CENTS commandments (particularly Control and partially entry). However, because it seems easy to gain initial traction compared to many other ideas I've had, I think it's a worthy place to start.

I do have a couple of ideas for further down the road that would follow the CENTS commandments, but the barrier of entry is too high for the resources I have.

As for my long term goal, I'd rather not say simply because I've found that sharing my long term goals makes me less motivated to complete them.

purposefully avoided.
How did you think I avoided this?
 

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purposefully avoided.

He answered the question in this post:

Time 6:13
Productivity 62%

Lessons Learned:
1) I can work for long periods of time without breaks. That's good. Now the question becomes why is it easy sometimes to work for several hours on end sometimes but not others?
2) I have a habit of switching quickly between things before completing any one thing (not always, but definitely more than I should). My thought process has been "I should work on that instead because it's more important". I think I'll need to clearly prioritize what I do before I start working. Then I know I'm doing the most important thing.



That makes perfect sense. Today I setup Trello and started using the system that you linked to. It was much easier to start doing real work seeing it all laid out in front of me. I used to use todo lists then stopped because they would lead to endless lists of fake work. This method is more goal oriented and solves most of the issues I've had with todo lists.

I also like how easily it implements The One Thing. That should help with lesson 2.

Let's see how this goes over the next few days.



The Timing app outputs this score based on how long you were doing "productive" things. So if I spend 6 hours doing work and 4 hours with distractions, the productivity score is 60%.

I have it set up so that it only counts things that are productive for me increase the score. For instance, this forum I'm counting as not productive (while helpful, browsing the forum all day doesn't get anything done). Reading is counted as not productive. While I enjoy reading/learning and believe that learning new things is valuable, I've been caught in the trap of reading book after book with little implementation. Time spent coding on VS Code, however, is productive because right now that aligns with my goals.

Some activities are also weighted. Like email is necessary but is not the most efficient use of time.

Hope that answers your question.
 
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Nick M.

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Pomodoros 14

Getting there! Not only did I make up my missing pomodoro from yesterday, I got the extra one I said I'd do.

Not all the pomodoros were the most productive. So tomorrow it's time to make every pomodoro count.
 

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I'm going this route because it should be fairly easy to start to get a feel on the fundamentals of business (like product creation, distribution, sales copy, etc.) and may end up moving to a better business once this makes profit. Part of that will be because Amazon FBA does not follow the CENTS commandments (particularly Control and partially entry). However, because it seems easy to gain initial traction compared to many other ideas I've had, I think it's a worthy place to start.
Don't limit yourself to Amazon. Even from the early stages you should consider it a starting point, but simultaneously set up your own eCommerce site.

Amazon's Terms of Service prohibit you from directly contacting your customers, but there is a relatively easy way around that. Incorporate your eCommerce URL in your labeling. If you are having a product custom made you can incorporate the URL in the product itself.

At least some of your customers will go to your site out of curiosity and if you make the site attractive enough they might choose to re-order there. You can add related products to that site, and you can offer discounts below your prices on Amazon.

Walter
 
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Pomodoros 11

Okay, so I'm still averaging 12 a day. Not consistently doing 12, but consistently doing close to 12.

Don't limit yourself to Amazon. Even from the early stages you should consider it a starting point, but simultaneously set up your own eCommerce site.

Amazon's Terms of Service prohibit you from directly contacting your customers, but there is a relatively easy way around that. Incorporate your eCommerce URL in your labeling. If you are having a product custom made you can incorporate the URL in the product itself.

At least some of your customers will go to your site out of curiosity and if you make the site attractive enough they might choose to re-order there. You can add related products to that site, and you can offer discounts below your prices on Amazon.

Walter
Thanks for the tips, Walter. I'm sure there's a thread on here about that. I'll look into it tomorrow. I really do appreciate the advice.

Also came at a really good time since I'm looking ahead in the next couple days and am about to run out of things to do. But no more!
 

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Hi @bytecode how long are your pomodoros/breaks?

I'm currently doing 25/5, but I might increase it to 45/10. For coding, sometimes I feel that 25 is a bit short (depending on the task).

Also, probably a stupid question, but do you ladies and gents count the short breaks when tracking time? I mean, using 25/5 pomodoros, do you track 25 min * 4 every 4 pomodoros, or (25 + 5) * 4? I'm currently tracking the short breaks as work, as they are only 5 minutes, but not tracking the long ones (15-20 minutes every 4 pomodoros, as recommended by its creator). This way I track 2 hours of work for 4 pomodoros, then nothing for 15-20 minutes of long break, then another 2 hours, and so on.

I just wonder how this fits into a daily 9-5 (or whatever) routine, and how working on your business can make you feel like those 8 hours have to be effective pomodoro time, excluding all breaks (also the short ones). That would mean that, to achieve 8 hours of work a day, you'd need around 19 pomodoros + 1.5h for short breaks + another 4 long breaks of 15-20 minutes. That's 10.5-11 hours in total to get 8 hours of work done.

Maybe the thick is to avoid following the standard pomodoro schedule, and find one that works for you and maximises your productivity.
 

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I just wonder how this fits into a daily 9-5 (or whatever) routine, and how working on your business can make you feel like those 8 hours have to be effective pomodoro time, excluding all breaks (also the short ones). That would mean that, to achieve 8 hours of work a day, you'd need around 19 pomodoros + 1.5h for short breaks + another 4 long breaks of 15-20 minutes. That's 10.5-11 hours in total to get 8 hours of work done.
What holds you back from doing as many pomodoros a day as you can? I think it's more about being a 100% focused during that 25/45 minutes than reaching as many as possible. This also answers your question about the bathroom breaks. They should be done during the breaks, as well as gathering water, coffee, whatsoever. The 15-20 minutes would feature as a lunch break.

I dare to say that the regular 9-to-5 office worker doesn't work more than 2-3 productive hours a day, so even reaching 8 hours of pomodoros including the breaks already is a great improvement.
 

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What holds you back from doing as many pomodoros a day as you can? I think it's more about being a 100% focused during that 25/45 minutes than reaching as many as possible. This also answers your question about the bathroom breaks. They should be done during the breaks, as well as gathering water, coffee, whatsoever. The 15-20 minutes would feature as a lunch break.

I dare to say that the regular 9-to-5 office worker doesn't work more than 2-3 productive hours a day, so even reaching 8 hours of pomodoros including the breaks already is a great improvement.
Thanks, that makes a lot of sense. I still have that mindset of working a daily job (say a minimum of 8 hours a day), and it's taking me some time to change it now that I have all day to work on my things (even if I do stuff almost every single day).

This also arose from the need of tracking all the time I spend working. I think this is important when you work on your own. I'm quite used to make estimates in hours/days in a normal Mon-Fri job, so I need to rethink this a little bit, but using pomodoros it's still possible.

I'll start counting quality pomodoros from now.
 

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