Getting things done

Are you a procrastinator?

Of course you are, only the lunatics among us aren’t.

Yesterday, I felt too drained to sit down and write, and continued to postpone until I gave up. Despite my exhaustion I was still expecting myself to be at the top of my game!

Silly brain.

Always demanding the absolute best from himself.

Managing my energy levels has been critical in ensuring I continue to get work done, but there’s one trick in particular I’d like to talk about that’s helped a lot in the past:

Lowering the bar.

Just for today’s work.

For me that would mean not getting stuck on a title for today’s post but rather defaulting to a template that makes titles optional (e.g. “entry #23”). Removing the expectation of having the perfect title (for SEO purposes) lowers the threshold at which my gears start moving.

When you feel like giving up, lower your expectations, and get something done. It doesn’t have to be good, it just needs to preserve your momentum.

Things that work for me

“Create a proper workplace”

I’m easily distracted.

So much so that I am anal about how I work to preserve my productivity and well-being. I wear noise-cancelling headphones to remove unwanted noise from the equation. My family gifted me insanely good ones last year and they’ve transformed my work.

I keep on my desk only items that are necessary to complete my work and nothing else.

I feel drained more quickly when the items inevitably collect on my desk.

Keeping that space clean is paramount.

I have a work space separate from any other room.

I’m guaranteed that work won’t be associated with restful activities.

My focus is where it should be thanks to a clean and self-contained work space.

“Sit down to do the work regardless of how you feel”

This is a tricky one.

I forget where I left off the following day.

Every morning I must again decide what my priorities for the day are.

I prefer to do it in the morning instead of the day before.

It’s part of a larger ritual that makes the transition from rest to an active state much less jarring.

On some days I just don’t complete much work.

I may get a lot of thinking done, but no output.

I can’t overstate how important those days are.

It’s the obstacles along the way that are most critical to observe.

They must be studied for long periods of time.

They can’t be overcome overnight.

Gradually you’ll come to an understanding of the issue.

And then when you finally nail it you’ll feel an incredible sense of relief and accomplishment.

It won’t last long.

But it’s nice anyway.

The important bit here is that you need to sit your ass down and decide what you will be working on, and if you’re stuck, work on something trivial. It really doesn’t matter.

The act is what preserves momentum.

“Don’t overcommit”

Don’t set lofty goals for the week.

You won’t accomplish much in any single week.

Aim to improve upon today.

Do that over long periods of time and you’ll achieve mastery.

Setting manageable goals for the day is an entire skill on its own that’s difficult to master.

Don’t start with the end goal.

Start with why.

Then find out what you need to improve upon your process.

Again, it’s the act that matters.

If you were a basketballer aiming for the big leagues what would you choose to work on?

Perhaps a faster sprint? Easy to track. The distance is known too because courts are all of the same length.

Then once you’ve achieved a speed you’re pleased with you add a dribble.

See where I’m going with this?

On some days the basketballer won’t have the stamina to work on his sprints but there’s always something else to do.

Perhaps he can think about how to run faster, dribble faster.

Being that focused on your process is what separates the achievers from the aimless.

“Monitor output”

The big one.

Monitoring too much won’t get you anywhere.

Monitoring too little stalls your progress.

Monitoring the wrong things will set you up for failure.

It’s a balancing act that takes years to master.

Start anywhere.

For a writer, the output could be volume or perhaps a daily paragraph. But that is not enough. How would a writer know if he’s reaching his audience? Because in the end the writer must make money.

Could track visitors.

Then conversion.

That might be enough to cover your bases.

You won’t be successful out of nowhere.

It’s a deliberate act that may take you decades.

That’s okay.

Start today.

Start with what you have.

Commit.

Created on August 9, 2021
Published on March 22, 2022
Last modified on March 22, 2022