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HOT TOPIC What Do Productive People Do?

Roli

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I have recently been inspired by the book we've been discussing on the forum, Atomic Habits by James Clear. A quote that hit me in particular, was the one whereby Clear tells us that our identities are the trailing sum of our habits, ergo when we take on new habits, we are actually attempting to change our identities.

After reading I decided to start a little experiment on myself and my family. You see, we are pretty messy and untidy, I have tried over the past decade to change this, and to some degree so has my other half, all to no avail.

After reading Habits, and thereafter reading all the various thoughts on it in the discussion thread, I had a mini epiphany and in the last couple of weeks our house is being transformed from perpetual mess, to a state that could almost be considered tidy!

So what did I do?

I simply created a Word document entitled; What Tidy People Do. In the document I wrote down about 20 bullet points, (which I've since added to). I then gathered my daughter and my girlfriend and asked them if they wanted us to be a tidy family, to which they enthusiastically replied, yes.

So I showed them the document, printed it out, and stuck it around the house, that's it. So now when I'm about to leave emptying the dishwasher till the morning, or leave an empty coffee mug on my desk till later, I can see that those actions are not what tidy people do, and lo and behold, it's working!

A lot of the list I got from the common sense part of my own head, however I got a good amount of feedback from the tidiest people I know, for instance a friend of mine with four children and a much larger, and infinitely tidier house than my own.

So now I want to use the same technique to start doing what productive people do, and I figure a lot of up and coming fastlaners (and maybe some established ones) would be interested in trying out this type of modelling, or if you are already productive, perhaps you can add to the list.

I'm hoping to have a good list of bullet points that I can keep in sight all of the time, so that I can copy productive people and become like them too.

I try and tend to keep it to what they do, rather than don't do, as it seems that has more psychological resonance, though I understand if anyone wants to chip in with a what productive people don't do.

Plus of course, this is a learning experience for me, so if any of the points I've put so far, or in the future are incorrect, I am very happy to be corrected by real honest-to-goodness productive people.

OK, without further ado, let's kick it off and let the games begin!


Productive people use scheduling tools to map out their days.

Productive people find time to work without distraction.

Productive people keep track of their progress from one day to the next.

Productive people plan their internet time.
 

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This is amazing. What a concept. I want to know what's on this list and post it around my house and office. This is simply brilliant. Repped++

I am only hazarding a guess here, because my own personal productivity is pretty much a train wreck - but let me try to contribute what I can come up with using common sense and observation of productive people. I'm numbering these in case a real, live productive person comes along and wants to disagree with one of these and say, "No, you're actually totally off on #2" or whatever. So feedback, pushback, and refinement to these ideas is 100% welcome!
  1. Productive people build in margin or buffer time to tasks.
  2. Productive people define the activities they want to do in a day or a work session, and then they adhere to what they've defined.
  3. Productive people get up in the morning when the alarm goes off, even if they don't feel like it.
  4. Productive people say "No" to a lot of things so that they can say "Yes" to their highest-leverage activities.
  5. Productive people set and enforce boundaries. If they say they're going to dedicate two hours to a task that's going to take three hours, they set the timer and stop at the two hour mark.
  6. Productive people choose long term gain over what's comfortable and pleasurable in the short term.
  7. Productive people allow themselves reasonable breaks, but when they're working, they work hard with intense focus and maximum effort.
 

Kak

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Productive people choose long term gain over what's comfortable and pleasurable in the short term.
Love this one!

I have not read the book, but I get the idea.

Productive people create win-win relationships that leverage the productivity of others.

Productive people choose things that reward their organization's efforts or "productivity" as handsomely as possible.

I would say the freelance style hustle is more concerned with time in the day than I typically am. Some days I am slammed and some days I am simply not. I have set my businesses up to move toward goals without continous direct input, just leadership.

Also... I am a violator of the whole saying no thing. I say yes to most things and I also make myself incredibly available to people I work with. Am I willing to say no if I simply can't? Yes.
 
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Roli

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This is amazing. What a concept. I want to know what's on this list and post it around my house and office. This is simply brilliant. Repped++
Thank you! Glad you like :)... I was wondering if anyone would want to see that list :)

I've uploaded it for you and anyone else who is interested. Thank you for your input, I'm going to come back to that in another reply in order to keep this thread as tidy (and therefore useful) as possible.

EDIT: I wanted to update, however it appears I can't remove this tidy.doc, so I have simply placed an updated version below.
 

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OK as this thread (hopefully) gets larger and we get more input, I'd like to drill down into some of the points so that they act as practical guides, rather than philosophical stand points. So I may come back and ask you; why? Or to simply clarify your points.

Then once we are agreed that this is indeed what productive people do, at the end of each week, I'll put them all together, so that we build an easy copy + paste list.

So, thank you so far to the early contributors, and I'm really pleased that you've chipped in straightaway @Kak, as you were one of the people I was hoping would contribute when I made this thread.

Right, let's get on with it, as a matter of formatting I will always comment below the quoted posts.

* * *​

  • Productive people build in margin or buffer time to tasks.
Why is this? It sounds right, I'm just trying to figure what advantage this gives, is it general organisation?


  • Productive people choose long term gain over what's comfortable and pleasurable in the short term.
Long term gain is definitely the way to go, however, exactly how do we achieve this... Answers on a postcard please!

Productive people create win-win relationships that leverage the productivity of others.
This is good, can we perhaps have a small example, maybe we can get another bullet point out of this one.

Productive people choose things that reward their organization's efforts or "productivity" as handsomely as possible.
I'd love to know how you do this one.

I have set my businesses up to move toward goals without continous direct input, just leadership.
I think automation is key here. Could this one perhaps be changed to something along the lines of:

Productive people automate their business processes wherever possible
?
 
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Roli

Roli

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- Productive people use website blockers to keep themselves away from waste-of-time websites such as Facebook etc.
 
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Roli

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Oh, and something I forgot to mention, which may or may not help. Music is very powerful, and so anytime I look at my 'tidy people' list, I hear the song Common People by Pulp, except I swap the word 'Common' for 'Tidy'

Pretty sure you can swap any word you want in there :)

 

njord

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Awesome idea Roli!

only I dont know about vacuumcleaning 3x a week though? Im happy if i do it 1x a week lol:happy:

Productive people build in margin or buffer time to tasks.

Productive people set and enforce boundaries. If they say they're going to dedicate two hours to a task that's going to take three hours, they set the timer and stop at the two hour mark.
I dont agree, look at people like Elon Musk, he achives the near impossible to do so he doesent give himself "buffer time to tasks" he sets impossible deadlines and works all nighters if he has to but in the end he makes them happen!

Why do productive people need to set boundaries to how much time they are alowed to dedicate to there tasks? this sounds counter productive to me?

Productive people invision their end resaults

Productive people dedicate the first 4 hours of their days to there one thing
 

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@LightHouse, what's your list?

How about @Kung Fu Steve ?

Or @Kak ?
Oh boy.... let me start by first saying thank you for tagging me here.

I think the format in which you all are trying to force this into is a little bit odd and not incredibly useful but I'll see if I'll get on board for a second.

There are a few key things that i beleive can help you become the person you need to be to get to the next level. These things change and adapt over time as your identity changes and adapts to where you are at.

First, recognize where you are is a product of all the choices you have made. Nothing you've done in the past from this moment matters, you can't change it and if you should have done something before... you would have done it. So drop it and work on who you are and who you can become.

#1 Morning routine - Everyday you should be waking up "correctly" and going through a morning routine that sets your mind and body for the day. This should be something you need to do not just want to do. Don't dream of doing yoga in the alps if you hate yoga pants and cold weather, it wont work.

#2 Plan your day, either the night before, or first thing. Don't leave your day to chance. Be certain of it's outcome and go for that.

#3 use a system to track your work, and most importantly dump your tasks into all day long. The less your mind clings to, the less anxiety and brain fog you will have, clearing the way to make magic happen

#4 Work when you are working, and don't work or think about work when you are not. The GaryV ideal of hustle hustle hustle is not productive unless you want to head straight into burn out. Take breaks and full take a break during those times. That way when it is time to work, you aren't dreaming of taking a break.

#5 Get the F*ck off your phone.

#6 Do not neglect life itself. Make sure every week you are checking in with friends and family, and also yourself. There is no point in pushing limits if the reward never comes, or you can't fully let yourself be happy for what you have done. Don't shortcut yourself. This is a serious subconscious issue that will massively effect your day to day efficiency and also your long term outlook. If you have this issue, start working on it ASAP.

These are just a few, and now I am out of time for this. Will post more if I think of any when i get more time!
 

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Productive people know what they are trying to accomplish. They are focused on the result.
 

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njord

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Oh boy.... let me start by first saying thank you for tagging me here.


#1 Morning routine - Everyday you should be waking up "correctly" and going through a morning routine that sets your mind and body for the day. This should be something you need to do not just want to do. Don't dream of doing yoga in the alps if you hate yoga pants and cold weather, it wont work.

#2 Plan your day, either the night before, or first thing. Don't leave your day to chance. Be certain of it's outcome and go for that.

#3 use a system to track your work, and most importantly dump your tasks into all day long. The less your mind clings to, the less anxiety and brain fog you will have, clearing the way to make magic happen
I was a non believer of the morning routine thing, but iv just picked up the miracle morning book and am willing to give it a shot;)

Im using your Trello system for a while now and i love it its awesome shit now i can keep my brain unloaded of stuff that needs to be done and focus on the task at hand or at least try.

I have the problem that my mind can wonder off and im easily distracted Lighthouse do you have any tips for that?

I keep distractions away from my working space but i still find my self distracted especially if im doing tasks i hate doing, its like my mind is activly looking for something else to do
 

LightHouse

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I was a non believer of the morning routine thing, but iv just picked up the miracle morning book and am willing to give it a shot;)
What was your reference for this being a bad thing? You might not get up incredibly early like the Miracle morning suggests, but having a specific routine that sets your mind and body up for the day, every day, is critical.

Im using your Trello system for a while now and i love it its awesome sh*t now i can keep my brain unloaded of stuff that needs to be done and focus on the task at hand or at least try.
Awesome, glad to hear!

I have the problem that my mind can wonder off and im easily distracted Lighthouse do you have any tips for that?
Yes, get off your phone/devices/tv, not just at work, but everywhere. It has conditioned you to want a constant dopamine rush every 2-5 minutes, so even when you put it away, your mind is still looking for the same thing, just from a different source. It took me 4 whole weeks to detox from doing this. In my experience it takes 1 week to stop picking your phone up, and an additional 3 weeks to start the reconditioning process.

I can tell you it is more than worth it.
 

LightHouse

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On a similar line,
Productive people always see the big picture
I'd say this should be written as "Successful people always see the big picture" I have seen productive people focus on tasks endlesly.

Productivity does not equal success. This is why i mentioned the method in this thread is kinda off. It's not just productivity everyone is searching for, it goes much deeper and wider than that to get to success. You can't just focus on one trait because you will lose somewhere else that is just as critical.
 

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Productive people get shit done.
Productive people complete top level tasks that achieve goals.
Productive people schedule focused time for large scale tasks that achieve goals.
Productive people block time, ditch distractions, and complete top level tasks.
----------------------------------------------
Productive people schedule blocks of focused distraction free time to complete large scale top level tasks to get shit done to achieve goals sooner.
 

Kung Fu Steve

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I really try to:

1. Be proactive...
2. Always begin with the end in mind...
3. Put first things first...
4. Think win/win...
5. Seek first to understand THEN to be understood...
6. Synergize...
7. Consistently sharpen the saw...
 
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Roli

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Wow! Very happy with the way this thread is going (I'm coming to you @LightHouse!), so let's dive in straight away.

***

only I dont know about vacuumcleaning 3x a week though? Im happy if i do it 1x a week lol:happy:
Ha! Well I have a child, a cat, and a dog, so perhaps that should have been tidy people with children and pets...

Why do productive people need to set boundaries to how much time they are alowed to dedicate to there tasks? this sounds counter productive to me?
I think this perhaps can be changed slightly to, productive people set deadlines which they stick to religiously... I understand the sentiment, if you just say to yourself; I have to do X task, it is not as powerful as saying; I have to finish X task by Friday 15th Feb at 2 p.m.

I think the format in which you all are trying to force this into is a little bit odd and not incredibly useful but I'll see if I'll get on board for a second.
I know it feels weird, especially if you are already productive. However I'm using this format because it seems to have worked with my family by listing things tidy people do and having that list in prominent places around the house. Rather than saying, let's be tidy people from now on, but not really focusing on how that's going to happen. Same results, easier to achieve.

I have the problem that my mind can wonder off and im easily distracted Lighthouse do you have any tips for that?

I keep distractions away from my working space but i still find my self distracted especially if im doing tasks i hate doing, its like my mind is activly looking for something else to do
As @LightHouse suggested, this is because you have got yourself used to picking up your phone, so you're used to those little dopamine hits. As Cal Newport puts it in Deep Work (great book by the way), you are destroying your ability to concentrate because you are signalling to your subconscious that you're not OK with being bored. I would suggest the following:

- remove all games from your phone.

- Stop using your phone for nonessential tasks.

- Practice just staring at the wall/out of the window, and just letting your mind wander.

- Anytime you feel the urge to use your phone for a nonessential task, say to yourself, I'm fine with being bored.

- When you are working, put your phone on flight mode, or even turn it off all together.

- Also when working, leave your phone in another room.

- TURN OFF ALL NOTIFICATIONS (It really does deserve all caps that one).

- Obviously get rid of/disable any social media apps.

I have seen productive people focus on tasks endlesly.
I think this is the difference between being productive, and being busy, where busy looks productive to the casual observer, however on closer inspection is not actually getting the job done in the long run.


Productivity does not equal success. This is why i mentioned the method in this thread is kinda off. It's not just productivity everyone is searching for, it goes much deeper and wider than that to get to success. You can't just focus on one trait because you will lose somewhere else that is just as critical.
I thought of this, however I think why the tidy people thing has worked for us, is because the ultimate goal is to become more organised, so I focused on a major element of organisation, being tidy.

In the same respect, as you say it is about being successful, and so the way I see it, from viewing the people on this forum, and reading people like Cal Newport (Deep Work), I can see that a major component of being successful is productivity. Ergo breaking down what makes someone productive could be useful.

However, as ever, I reserve the right to be wrong :)
 
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I realised that my 'Tidy' doc was not complete, so have removed and replaced with the one attached to this comment.
 

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So as to keep this thread useful, as promised I'll list all what has been added, in some cases I will change the wording slightly. My reasoning for doing this, is to make an easy bullet point list that can be copy, pasted, printed, and pinned to the appropriate areas around your working environments.

I've also tried to take out the how, as this list is about focusing on the why, if that makes sense.

If I've changed the meaning of some of the original statements, or left out what you feel to be important, please correct me.

What Productive People Do

- Productive people use scheduling tools to map out their days.

- Productive people get rid of distractions before starting work.

- Productive people keep track of their progress from one day to the next.

- Productive people plan their internet time wisely.

- Productive people set deadlines, and then stick to them religiously.

- Productive people define the activities they want to do in a day, or a work session, and then they adhere to what they've defined.

- Productive people get up in the morning when the alarm goes off, even if they don't feel like it.

- Productive people set and enforce boundaries. If they say they're going to dedicate two hours to a task that's going to take three hours, they set the timer and stop at the two hour mark.

- Productive people allow themselves reasonable breaks, but when they're working, they work hard with intense focus and maximum effort.

- Productive people create win-win relationships that leverage the productivity of others.

- Productive people automate their business processes wherever possible.

- Productive people use website blockers to keep themselves away from waste-of-time websites such as Facebook etc.

- Productive people have a morning routine that sets their minds and bodies for the day.

- Productive people plan their days, either the night before, or first thing. They do not leave their days to chance.

- Productive people are certain what they want the day's outcome to be, and then concentrate on achieving it.

- Productive people use a system to track their work.

- Productive people use work tracking systems that are flexible enough to dump new tasks into all day long. This is another form of automation.

- Productive people work when they are working, and don't work or think about work when they are not.

- Productive people take full breaks so that when it is time to work, they aren't dreaming of taking a break.

- Productive people primarily use their phones to place and receive phone calls/texts.

- Productive people do not neglect life itself. They make sure every week they are checking in with friends and family, and also themselves (leisure time).

- Productive people know what they are trying to accomplish. They are focused on the result.

- Productive people complete top level tasks that achieve goals.

- Productive people schedule focused time for large scale tasks that achieve goals.

- Productive people block time, ditch distractions, and complete top level tasks.

- Productive people schedule blocks of focused distraction free time to complete large scale top level tasks to get shit done to achieve goals sooner.



- Productive people always begin with the end in mind

- Productive people put first things first

- Productive people seek first to understand THEN to be understood...

- Productive people are consistently looking for new ways to be productive.
 

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#3 use a system to track your work, and most importantly dump your tasks into all day long. The less your mind clings to, the less anxiety and brain fog you will have, clearing the way to make magic happen
Can you elaborate a little more on this?
 

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Can you elaborate a little more on this?
I use a notebook and pen. You can use a pen and paper, or a similar electronic note taking tool, but the goal is to simply capture things as they come to you, so that you can revisit them later. This lets you not miss any great ideas, notes to yourself, reminders, commitments, etc., yet not jump around from one thing to another as it comes to you. Simply collect it, keep working on whatever is the priority of the moment, then process what you collected at another time.

As to the original post, I am at my most productive when I focus on the tasks/actions instead of the time. I begin the task/action and continue with it until it is complete. Larger tasks, projects, goals, etc, are broken down into manageable, progressive pieces (ala "Getting Things Done" by David Allen).

When you look at an overall goal, you don't generally say "I need to spend XXX hours to achieve this goal." You instead have to *do* XYZ things (actions, steps, tasks). Each small step leads you towards success (of completion at the very least). Example: You decide to write a 50,000 word book. You can plan to write 2 hours a day, but that doesn't mean much unless there is something tangible attached to those hours. Some people write 500 words in 2 hours while others write 10 times that much. To get the book finished in a reasonable period of time, you'd assign yourself a specific number of words to write each day instead of a number of hours.
 

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Productive people get shit done.
Productive people complete top level tasks that achieve goals.
Productive people schedule focused time for large scale tasks that achieve goals.
Productive people block time, ditch distractions, and complete top level tasks.
----------------------------------------------
Productive people schedule blocks of focused distraction free time to complete large scale top level tasks to get shit done to achieve goals sooner.
REP+

CHOP CHOP!
 

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Productive people are EFFICIENT
  • How long is your morning routine?
  • How long is your commute?
  • How long until you "get into the swing of the day?"
A study in the UK showed, the average salaried person is productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes.

The rest of their day is broken up as follows:

  1. Checking social media – 44 minutes (spent doing this during working day)
  2. Reading news websites – 1 hour 5 minutes
  3. Discussing out of work activities with colleagues – 40 minutes
  4. Making hot drinks – 17 minutes
  5. Smoking breaks – 23 minutes
  6. Text/instant messaging – 14 minutes
  7. Eating snacks – 8 minutes
  8. Making food in office– 7 minutes
  9. Making calls to partner/ friends – 18 minutes
  10. Searching for new jobs- 26 minutes
Lingchi 凌遲 - Death by 1000 cuts...

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Productive people create win-win relationships that leverage the productivity of others.
Christ this is good. Going on a sticky note on my monitor.
 

njord

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What was your reference for this being a bad thing? You might not get up incredibly early like the Miracle morning suggests, but having a specific routine that sets your mind and body up for the day, every day, is critical.



Yes, get off your phone/devices/tv, not just at work, but everywhere. It has conditioned you to want a constant dopamine rush every 2-5 minutes, so even when you put it away, your mind is still looking for the same thing, just from a different source. It took me 4 whole weeks to detox from doing this. In my experience it takes 1 week to stop picking your phone up, and an additional 3 weeks to start the reconditioning process.

I can tell you it is more than worth it.
I dont have a refrence of the morning ritual to be a bad thing its more like why should I do it? why should I bother but now im starting to see the benifits of doing it.:)

I have all notifications off all i have on my phone is a vibrate for if someone calls me (not often) and texts come in as a banner but in my pocket i wont know till i take it out.
I dont have any TV all i have is internet, YT and this forum.

About the dopmine fasting, how do you do it? I assum you need to keep in touch with people for work and personal life? I not willing to cut everything off for a month:happy:.
 

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I’m going to diverge a little here...I understand the underlying premise of the thread however much of it is simply rewording the definition of productivity which is maximizing output for input.

What @LightHouse suggested is spot on. Reframing this question into “what do successful people do?” or, “what does X person do that I want to emulate?” will get you thinking on another level.

Productive people, in the sense that this thread is intended, do things that move the needle of their life. They get a ROI on their time. If their abilities can make them $500/hr, why would they be doing anything that could be hired out for $20/hr? And yes, they certainly prioritize.

To be truly productive, you need to narrow down your strengths and unique abilities and then leverage them as much as possible. Bonus points if like @Kak your strength is leveraging other people’s strengths because then it compounds and you see massive results.
 

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There are some comments on the subject but the gist goes something like this:

As a human in the modern world you have thousands of things vying for your attention and energy. As an entrepreneur, you have a thousand times the things vying for your attention and energy.

I can think of hundreds of things 'to do' ranging from calling the next prospect on my dial list to doing the dishes to replying to that text from my freshman college roommate from a week ago.

But there isn't enough time in the day for all of those things and in that list there are some items that need to take priority.

One of my old bosses affectionately referred to this as "taking actions that move the needle".

Doing the dishes or texting my college roommate back are things I need to do and will get to. But I shouldn't prioritize those over making a cold call for instance or fulfilling an order. The latter two 'move the needle', the former two probably do not.

Thus, productive people prioritize. They see the top items that need to get done and focus 100% of their energy on those. Then the next. Then the next. Then the next. Occasionally 'taking a break' to handle minutia.
 

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