Nothing Definitive

Category: Productivity

Productivity Tips: Realisitic Expectations, Taking Breaks, and Gaining Momentum

Today’s upload shares two little productivity tips to help you accomplish more in life. The first is having realistic expectations by researching new tasks, jobs, and hobbies before diving in. I stand by my “7 day rule” which says, wait 7 days before committing to anything. You can plan, dream, draw out, research, discuss, etc. all you want, but don’t spend any money or make any permanent commitments for 7 days. Because I’ve found that after 7 days you have a pretty good idea of whether or not this new project or hobby is a good idea. The reason this is important is because after 7 days you’ve returned from the elated, excited, non-regular mindset, to the mindset that you have 90%+ days of the year. Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment we neglect to realize that how we feel now, doesn’t reflect how we normally feel. And when it wears off is when we say, “oops, what did I get myself into?” Of course I should also mention that this can be good sometimes because we need to get out of our comfort zones to really experience life. But generally it’s best to be in control of these things and make rational, responsible decisions.

I also bring up the discouragement we feel when we’ve failed to achieve something. For example, for a few weeks you decide to begin learning a new language and you’re excited and diligent about keeping up with your studies. Then life interferes by dumping extra work on you or distracting you in some way. Suddenly it’s three weeks later and you haven’t studied at all. A feeling of disappointment sets in and you sigh, shrugging off the feeling and telling yourself, “damn if only I would have found time to keep studying. Oh well, I guess it’s not a big deal.” And your language studies cease. But here’s the kicker. It didn’t cease those three weeks ago, it ceased in that moment, because that sort of situation is nothing more than a reminder. Instead of shrugging it off, restart your studies. It doesn’t matter if you have to relearn things or start over. That’s like sending you message saying, “hey remember that language you were trying to learn? Go learn it now, you have some time.” Don’t get discouraged and quit, just do it again. Because ultimately it’s not even about whether or not you learned the language, it’s about maintaining a level of productivity that keeps your mind active and excited about life. So when these moments pop up, when you’re reminded of something you used to do, just start doing it again.

The last point I make in this video is that if you’re a content producer like myself (making videos, blog posts, etc.), don’t worry about quality at first. I know it seems incredibly important to only put out your best work, but the problem is that you’re going to struggle remaining consistent. Instead focus on producing regularly, regardless of quality. Get into a groove by releasing 1 video per whatever. No matter what. Consider all your content right now practice for future content that’s going to blow people away. Because I promise you that however you envision your content now, it’s going to suck and be rejected for years, until it finally reaches this magical place that people respect. And this applies to basically everything. Our perception of success grossly underestimates what it actually takes to be good. Take that into account when pursuing a project.

Just Do It

Today I want to talk about a seemingly simple concept that most people don’t appear to understand. It pulls itself from the Nike brand “just do it”, which is a wonderful little line that encapsulates the entirety of human ingenuity. Our ability to go out and take action is perhaps the most underutilized freedom we have and something I hope to convey properly here today.

It doesn’t matter what it is. It doesn’t matter that your plan isn’t completely figured out. It doesn’t matter that inspiration hasn’t reached you yet. Just do something. Don’t keep thinking about it. Don’t try and plan all the details. And don’t schedule it for later. Just do it now. Do whatever it is that you find productive. Do any tiny thing that you consider progress. Anything you consider worth pursuing. It doesn’t matter if it fits with your plan. Just do something.

So many times in my life I’ve had plans for projects I’ve wanted to pursue. And so many times I’ve failed to complete them. Only recently when I completely dedicated myself to certain tasks have I realized how simple and effective it is to simply take action. There is nothing holding you back but yourself. And in retrospect it seems so obvious. But there was a time when it wasn’t. And I see it even more clearly in people now. So many speak of things they wish to do, and on occasion they will, but ultimately fail. The reason is because they don’t continue doing productive things.

If you find yourself a week or two into a hobby or personal project and suddenly lose sight of the inspiration you initially held, simply do something. Don’t try and remember what it was that got you started. Don’t worry about the dream that seemed so clear but suddenly doesn’t make sense. Instead think of any small task that is related to what you’re doing and do it. It’s that simple.

Our society seems obsessed with this idea that productivity has to be work or something boring. That if I enjoy what I’m doing than it’s not work and thus not productive. Absurd! If you’re a gamer like myself and deem it productive to play a wide variety of games so that you know much about the industry. Than don’t feel guilty about playing them. You’re amassing a type of domain knowledge and there are ways to use it for good. If you want to read more (like I do), then read more. Don’t feel guilty if you’re “supposed” to be doing something else. It doesn’t matter as long as you deem it relevant and productive.

I always catch myself trying to manage my productivity as well and this is detrimental. Rather than trying to balance coding, networking, content production, social interaction, exercise, dieting, keeping up with pop culture, listening to the latest music, reading good books, watching awesome shows on Netflix, etc. Just take a step back and realize it doesn’t matter. It’s all productive in my mind and thus equally valuable. Just choose one to pursue at a time and then another when you’re done. That way you maximize productivity, enjoy what you’re doing, and relieve the ridiculous stress we impart on ourselves. Don’t over think it, just do something.

UPDATE 2016-02-07: An additional issue worth mentioning here is that even when I do something productive I’m still not really satisfied with myself. It seems rare that I finish a day feeling like I seized all the opportunities available to me and the explanation for why is probably as simple as that: I just don’t work as hard as I could. However, this may be unnecessarily detrimental in a self-reinforcing manner where the discouragement of quitting early, even though you were productive, ultimately destroys your ambitions. Rather than praising yourself and staying positive, you needlessly compare what you did to what you could have done in a perfect world. But this is sub-optimal and unrealistic because the beginning of anything is difficult, especially significant life changes. It would be far more beneficial to set realistic, or even low, expectations early on and slowly increment over time as you adjust to the pursuit of productivity instead of desire. Because remember that you’re fighting a tantalizing and short-term effect over the generally drab and difficult challenge of accomplishing something long-term.

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