One weird trick to overcome procrastination

Try this: tonight, before you go to bet, set out your clothes for tomorrow.

Why, Shawn!?

One reason we procrastinate is because we lack a system of execution.

If you make the first step of a task or project easier on yourself, then you have one step one already decided. It will make it simpler to continue following through.

(Pro tip: you can apply the night-time-outfit-trick to any other project or area of your life.)

One weird trick to overcome procrastination

I took Finn Beales’ online course version of this same training and absolutely loved it.

Probably one of the most helpful and practical guides to actually improving my photography that I’ve ever been through. And now there is also a magazine / book version of that same online course.

The fundamental ideas that I walked away with from the online course — as far as ways to shoot and things to look for — are all inside this $20 full-color workbook. If you want to take better photos, this thing is a bargain at twice the price.

Photography Storytelling Workshop book

The $20/20 rule for getting rid of your stuff

When we moved into our house about 6 years ago, we re-finished the storage room and turned into a home office.

And so, well, let’s just say we don’t have very much space for storage. But that’s fine because it forces us to only keep the things we love and/or use regularly.

A guideline that I picked up a few years ago is the idea of this rule $20 and 20 minutes.

This is for those things own, and you’re holding on to “just in case” you might need it someday…

If you’re not sure if it’s something that you may need again one day, consider if it is something you could replace for less than $20 and in less than 20 minutes. If it’s easily replaced, just get rid of it now because for all you know, you will never need it again anyway.

The $20/20 rule for getting rid of your stuff

I recently revisited this article about ideas, and a few things about it stuck out fresh to me:

  1. Your team and your system of execution is far more valuable than your idea.
  2. Done and shipped is vastly more important than almost done.

And, in fact, these two go together. You need to consistently finishing what you start… If you’re a slave to every new idea then you’ll never have the focus to finish a single thing.

Done and Shipped

Long-time readers here may remember back in early 2014 when I began going all-in with writing and podcasting around productivity, time management, and creativity.

Welp. Still here, still going all-in with this stuff. And over the years one thing I’ve discovered is that there are four main obstacles people face when it comes to being focused and productive. This is something I’ll be writing and sharing a lot more about in the coming months.

What’s great about these 4 obstacles is that they are very much fixable. What’s not so great is that often the symptoms of these obstacles look similar.

That’s one reason why so much productivity advice sucks (getting advice that diagnoses the wrong issue).

It’s also why folks will try a new productivity approach or app, but don’t see any progress or momentum is made. Again: they were merely treating a symptom and not the actual problem.

This is why we developed the all-new Focus Quiz.

This thing is amazing. It’s a FREE assessment that will diagnose your biggest obstacle to focus right now and help you find out how to solve it.

The Focus Quiz steps

How it works

The assessment is free, easy, and takes just a few minutes.

You can use your personalized results to get insight into how to get a clear head amidst the overwhelming urgent issues of everyday life and make improvements to your focus, productivity, and time management.

  1. Take the Quiz (about 2-3 minutes)
  2. Get your results: find out where you are inside the Focus Flywheel and see what the biggest mistake you’re probably making right now is.
  3. Bonus: Along with your results, we’ll send you a personalized focus pathway to help you know what you should be doing now and what steps you need to take next.

You can take the assessment here.

The New Productivity Assessment

“Alex & Books” on Twitter:

The point of reading is not to memorize every word… It’s to introduce yourself to new ideas, new information, and new ways of thinking.

In this exploding information economy of personal knowledge management and building your second brain, it can seem stressful (if not wasteful) if you’re not taking 100% advantage of every little sliver of information and inspiration that you come across.

But that doesn’t have to be the goal all the time. In fact, that cannot be the goal.

Sometimes it’s good enough to simply be introduced to a new idea or a new way of thinking.

That’s why I buy WAY more books that In read. And I will continue to do so.

Here are my four rules of book buying:

  • Don’t be a wimp about it.
  • Don’t stress about reading them cover to cover.
  • Make notes and mark up the margins.
  • Share what you learn.
On The Point of Reading

“For me, one of the signs of health in emotional margin is how much I’m writing in my notebook each week. If pages begin to stack up without any notes, ideation, or doodling, it’s a sign that I’m not slowing down enough to think on paper.”

Great article by Isaac this week on The Focus Course blog about the draw to return to analog tools.

A Return to Analog

It takes effort to say YES (but YES is the whole point)

A lot of productivity and time management advice includes all the things you should not do.

  • Don’t sleep in.
  • Don’t use your phone in the morning.
  • Don’t check email before lunchtime.
  • Don’t binge watch Netflix late into the night.
  • Don’t have social media on your phone, etc…
  • Don’t leave any emails in your inbox.
  • Don’t sleep with your phone in the room.

Why is so much productivity advice about what NOT to do?

The choices you make about your time and focus should be about what you are saying YES to.

The problem is that it is a lot harder to figure out what you want.

It’s far easier (and more dramatic) to focus on what to avoid than it is to take the time to figure out what to embrace.

In fact, the whole reason we are saying NO to some of those things is so that we can actually say YES to what we really want to do.

I am not going to check my email before lunch because I would rather spend that time writing.

Having a long list of things you don’t do will not make you productive.

What do you do in the time you’ve created for yourself? What do you choose to say YES to? Saying YES to the right thing is what makes you productive.

No is easy. Yes requires focus.

It takes effort to say YES (but YES is the whole point)

What makes an overly urgent and busy life so dangerous?

I was recently flipping through Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism, and came across this quote that I had highlighted:

“If you believe being overly busy and overextended is evidence of productivity, then you probably believe that creating space to explore, think, and reflect should be kept to a minimum.”

It is dangerous to be overly urgent and busy. Because it will distract us from slowing down.

What makes an overly urgent and busy life so dangerous?

Maximum clarity doesn’t always mean perfect clarity

One definition of Focus is “Maximum Clarity”. But, in life, having maximum clarity doesn’t always mean having absolute, perfect clarity. Focus can be a graduating scale.

Sometimes, having maximum clarity right now, may still seem a bit vague… maybe you are only 80% confident and clear. But that’s the best you’ve got right now so you make the best decision you can at the time with the values, motivation, and information available to you right now.

Thus you must make a decision with the most amount of clarity you have right now. Knowing that, as you move forward, things will come more into view and you can make adjustments.

Maximum clarity doesn’t always mean perfect clarity