A quick guide on how to actually accomplish what we set out to do.
It’s Sunday night, around 11 PM.
After finishing the tv show you were watching, you head to bed, ready for the week of work ahead.
You’re comfortable,exhausted, and ready to doze off into dreamland.
But then, it hits you. Your heart starts to race while panic fills your mind.
“How could I let this happen” — You question yourself with a mix of anger and frustration.
You have just realized you forgot to finish the project which deadline is coming up.
And now, those comfortable bed sheets are far from being a reality.
You’re going to have to pull an all-nighter.
Whether during high-school, college, or at your current job, you’ve probably faced a similar situation. One where you either misjudged the time needed to complete a project, or you simply forgot about it until it was too late.
For some of us, this can happen more than we’d like to admit.
It’s a habit we’ve built, consciously or not, and now we find ourselves trapped by it. Like Warren Buffet said:
The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.
As you’ve probably noticed, if this is a problem in your life, one of the big consequences of these chains is that they stop you from delivering your best work. You are always left with the feeling that you could have given more.
The Core Issue
On the surface, it would seem like procrastination is the main issue. After all, if we would just sit down and work there wouldn't be a problem, right?
The fact is, we do sit down. The issue is, we do so only very close to the deadline.
And even if we set a plan beforehand, it can be very easy to neglect our self-imposed rituals. We keep pushing things forward until we have no other option but to rush through it all.
As everyone who does this will know, we are always in a constant battle with ourselves. Short-term pleasure vs long-term achievement.
With this in mind, the question goes from “How do we sit down to do the work?” to “How do we set a plan we can actually follow?”
As a first step, I strongly believe you have to properly establish your mindset for the plan ahead. This is the foundation upon which everything else will be built
A common trap is to fall into the “do or die” mindset, where you commit to 12-hour work-days and start agreeing with the quote “I can sleep when I’m dead”.
For how motivating and exciting it may seem at first, this is a road that inevitably leads to exhaustion, anxiety and burnout. A road I don’t recommend.
What we are essentially saying to ourselves by doing it, is the following: “I hate my life right now, as such, I’m going to hustle super hard until I have one I do enjoy.”
The big problem with adopting this mindset is that we are training ourselves to never be happy. We are placing that sense of joy and fulfilment outside ourselves.
If I’ve learned anything from my journey is that gratitude is something you practice, not something you acquire.
Let that sink in.
For how much you may hate your life right now, there are always things you can be grateful for: Having a job, a roof to sleep under, food readily available, and most importantly, being alive.
All of that to say this, we need to fall in love with the process.
You need to make your priority to find ways to not only get lost in the process of doing but also, to make your goal the improvement of these rituals.
As James Clear put it:
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
“Problem #1: Winners and losers have the same goals.”
At the end of the day, the determining factor is not the goal we set, after all, those who fail and those who succeed clearly had the same thing in mind.
What will fundamentally determine our level of success is the way we approach the systems to get there. It’s working smarter, not harder.
To be able to define the systems and habits we are going to implement we need to have an end-goal. However, not any end-goal. You have to make it specific.
So, instead of “Create a successful business”, you would maybe say “Make $10,000 in the first 2 months of my business”. The reason for this is quite simple. If you don’t specify your goal then it becomes almost inevitable to become lazy and settle for something below what you had originally envisioned. You must be specific.
Once you have your goal, here comes the fun part.
You are going to define all the steps necessary to get there, however, you’re not going to do it in the traditional sense. For this, you’ll start at the end, and start creating these steps from the end to the beginning.
Final Goal: $10,000 in 2 months
- Final Step: Sell 10 products at $1,000 each
- Step #22: Advertise with Fb Ads
- Step #21: Structure of the system for order delivery
- Step #20: Create a Landing Page
- Step#19: Product Pictures
- Step #18: Product Packaging + Manufacturing
By following this, you are doing a few things for yourself.
Firstly, you make sure you never deviate from the track defined because you can always asses what you should be doing.
Secondly, you can get immersed in the tasks because you aren't worried about what’s to come next.
Finally, since these small goals should rely on things you can 100% control, it is much easier to be grateful and enjoy the actual process.
#3: Weekly Planning
Once you have your plan, it’s time to schedule these tasks, you know, so that you actually do them.
For me, what seems to work best is to accumulate the most important tasks for the beginning of the week. Monday is usually the best day, however, as the week moves on it is easy to miss some tasks, to reschedule them, or to plain out neglect them.
That’s ok, there is a reason for us to do this on a weekly basis.
Once Sunday arrives, the only scheduled task I have is “PLAN NEXT WEEK”.
I take the time to go over what went well, what went poorly, and how I can improve from there. Usually, over a cup of coffee.
After that, I schedule the next week with the important tasks I missed and with new ones to come.
Then, it’s just a matter of keep repeating this long enough and you’ll reach your goal.
Simple but effective.
The crucial, most important step, however, also the hardest.
After all, setting the plan is the easy part. Where everyone gets stuck is in actually following said plan.
While never easy, there are some steps you can follow to make it much more doable.
Number 1: Prioritize.
Make sure that when you define the steps of the plan, they are in order of importance. This way, even if you don’t do much, at least you’ll be doing hat matters.
Number 2: Don’t overload.
A big reason for us to procrastinate is getting overwhelmed.
We look at our big list of tasks, a number so big there is no way we’ll finish them. So, instead of trying to get something done, we get scared and go play video games instead.
While some self-discipline will be required, you can make it much easier for yourself by setting a max of 2–5 tasks/day, or whatever number works for you, so that you actually sit down and work. Then, you can go and play video-games.
Number 3: Set-up an “Anti-procrastination system”
In case of emergency, you want to have a system to fall back on and take you out of this procrastinating state.
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To summarize, it goes something like this:
- 1: Set up a timer. Once it goes off you stop whatever your doing.
- 2: Prioritize. To avoid overwhelm pick 1–3 tasks to do, in order of importance
- 3: Change Environment. To “reset” your brain, move from the location where you were procrastinating in.
- 4: Set Up A Reward. To help in getting the task done, define a reward for when it is completed.
Now, this is what works for me, a big part of the journey is figuring out what works for you, and that, you can only do by trial and error.
#5: Moving Forward
Equipped with all of this, it is now, all in your hands.
There is much more to it, of course. However, this will be the foundation for whatever you attempt:
Mindset, Reverse-Engineering, Planning, Executing.
There is one thing you must keep in mind though. Your mindset will fail you, so will your planning, your executing and anything else you decide to add.
That is part of it, no one can keep a perfect record forever. However, that will never be the deciding factor, these are just guidelines.
What matters is that when such accident happen, you recognize them and move on back to the right path. The one you defined for yourself.
And as some motivation for the tough times, I’ll leave you with another quote from “Atomic Habits”:
“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that last blow that did it — but all that had gone before.”
Thank you for reading.
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