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Bring Something, Check Your Ego

Bring Something, Check Your Ego

Here’s a two part suggestion to getting results on proposals, projects, plans in progress, story ideas, and whatever else you might be working on: bring something to the table, and be willing to check your ego.

Bring Something–  One thing that really gets any new idea moving is pre-loading the first meetings with an idea. If you’re going to brainstorm a new business, don’t come completely open and empty. Bring a starter concept. If you’re thinking of starting a stationary store, have an idea what you might do to differentiate yourself from the bulk office supply store. It’s a starter idea. It doesn’t have to be the final idea. It’s something for everyone to consider, to grab onto, to hold. Coming with nothing in hand is often too open-ended.

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And this can apply to anything. Are you trying to shave hours back to cut expenses at your retail store? Are you talking with your significant other about vacation plans? Do you want a raise? Have something in hand to start the discussion with. Bring your suggested schedule for employees. Have travel brochures and a tentative budget. Show results and differentiation between you and the other employees. Whatever. Bring something.

Check Your Ego– It’s fair to assume that the first idea won’t be the best. Even if you think it is, there’s usually an improvement to be had. This is where the process breaks down fairly quickly if you’re not willing to work hard on checking your ego. What do I mean? Be completely willing to hear alterations to your ideas, even if the original idea doesn’t survive in any obvious way. If the end result is better, and is what everyone (including you) wants, isn’t it worth it to stand back from the whole issue of being prideful in your idea?

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Here’s an example. I needed a lot of information on some technical processes and logistics. I asked around. Nothing. No one seemed to know how this work got done, and if they did, no one felt like helping me explain it in a document. So, I wrote my own stab at the whole process. Some of it was fairly accurate, but in other places, I had no clue whatsoever how parts of the process worked. (Usually, at that point, I’d insert something utterly ludicrious: “the cell towers are maintained by talking sheep.”)

Lo and behold, the moment I sent that document out as “the definitive guide” to those processes, I had critics galore! I had people come out of the woodwork via email (some I’d thought no longer even worked for our company), all eager to tell me where I was wrong. I just put my hands behind my head, smiled broadly, and watched the content I needed come in.

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Be Open to the Possibilities- Often times, especially with brainstorming, ideas can go from an idea that makes sense from your perspective into something far bigger once you open up the idea to others. It’s the whole “when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail” thing. To that end, always be willing to accept the ways in which your idea might morph into something utterly different than what you started with. In most cases (not all), the end result is much better than the original plan, broad enough to include more than just your own unique abilities, and sustainable for that very reason.

The beauty of working with lots of creative, intelligent people is that you can often grow ideas from something modest into something dynamic and useful. Not unlike exposing your software’s API for further development, consider giving your ideas APIs so that people can further develop them. The results should be much nicer than the original premise (on average).

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Have you experienced this first hand? Tell us about it.

–Chris Brogan creates content at GrasshopperFactory.com . Be ready for a new Lifehack podcast tomorrow, 6/21.  If you haven’t subscribed to the RSS feed, please do. That will deliver the content right to your reader of choice, into your portable media player, or wherever else you want access to the wisdom of Leon Ho’s Lifehack.org

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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