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Productivity: Pick a Small Corner

Productivity: Pick a Small Corner

I was marveling over a new friend’s site, Big Bottom, which is not about that, potty brain. It’s about bass players. Musicians. Take something as big as music, and specialize down to bass players. It’s brilliant. The idea is small enough to drive very specific traffic, and yet large enough to include a lot of people who can appreciate the idea.

So how’d Dale do it? He picked a small corner, and went to work.

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Applied to Life Hacking

There are LOTS of jobs that just look too daunting when you view the whole thing. Dishes piled high in the sink after a party always look 300 times higher than they are. Writing a novel sounds horrible when you consider all 300 pages that have to be written. You can go another way and say that just blanket saying, “write a novel!” is too big a thing. Jason Fried preaches about the beauty of constraints all the time at 37 Signals, right?

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Pick a Small Corner

In GTD terms, this is pretty much Next Action space. But perhaps this is kind of like completing a series of Next Actions without trying to look too hard at the bigger picture. Just accept that it’s out there, and believe that what you’re about to do is going to move that goal along eventually, but squint about it. Don’t think too hard. Just go into doing.

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  • Accept that the project is big. Just do this first thing.
  • Accept that this first thing is complex. Just take the first step.
  • Accept that failure might come early. Stop. Take a breath. Go.
  • Set tiny goals, very tiny goals. (When I started running, I’d say all throughout the run, “I’m going to stop at that tree up there. That’s totally where I’m gonna stop. Okay, you can stop there,” I’d say to myself. When I got really close, I’d say, “Forget it. I’m already here. But I’m only going to run as far as that tree, then.” )
  • Don’t stop to pat yourself on the back. Notch the milestone, and move forward.
  • If you lose focus, say out loud, “Small corner.” Say it again.
  • Finish as much as you can manage, celebrate what you’ve done, and try moving to something else for just a minute.
  • Come back and do more. You can pull off tons of false stops and move things forward.

On that higher level, picking a small corner means understanding that there’s lots that you could do, and that it becomes a matter of taking a look at the larger chaos, squinting, and then narrowing your goal down to that one thing that you think you can accomplish as a small corner goal. Remember that constraints — especially those that are self-imposed — are good for helping you move foward. (I use constraints in building processes for myself and my new business).

Let me know what you think of this one. Personally, I think learning how to execute the small bits is what gives you confidence to pull off the larger plays. We’d love your feedback.

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Chris Brogan writes about self-improvement and creativity at [chrisbrogan.com], when he’s not appreciating Big Bottom (the website, silly!)

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Last Updated on December 30, 2018

How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic Throughout the Day

How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic Throughout the Day

This article is the 2nd in the 6-part series, Lifehack Challenge: Become An Early Riser In 5 Days.

If you’d like to become an early riser, there are some things you should know before you run off to set your oft-ignored alarm clock.

So how to become an early riser?

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Here are five tips I’ve discovered to be most helpful in making the transition from erratic sleeper to early morning wizard:

1. Choose to get up before you go to sleep

You’re not very good at making decisions when you’ve just woken up. You were in the middle of a dream in which [insert celebrity crush of choice here] is serving you breakfast in bed only to be rudely awakened by the harsh tones of your alarm clock. You’re frustrated, angry, confused, and surprised. This is not the time to be making decisions about whether or not you should stay in bed! And yet, most of us leave the first decision of our day to be made in a blur of partial wakefulness.

No more! If you want to be a consistently early riser, try making your decision to rise at a specific time before you go to sleep the night before. This frees you from making the decision in the morning when you’ve just woken up. Instead of making a decision, you have only to follow through on your decision from the night before. Easier said than done? Of course. But only for the first few times. Eventually your need for raw willpower to get out of bed will diminish and you’ll be the proud parent of a new habit!

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Steve Pavlina suggests you practice getting out of bed during the day[1] to get a few of the “practice sessions” out of the way without the early morning fog in your head.

2. Have a plan for your extra time

Let’s say you’ve actually made it out of bed 2 hours before you normally would. Now what? What are you going to do with all this time you’ve discovered in your day? If you don’t have something planned to do with your extra time, you risk falling for the temptation of a “morning nap” that wipes out all the work you put into getting up.

What to do? Before you go to bed, make a quick note of what you’d like to get done during your extra hours the following day. Do you have a book to write, paper to read, or garage to clean? Make a plan for your early hours and you’ll do more than protect yourself from backsliding into bed. You’ll get things done and those results will fuel your desire to build rising early into a habit!

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3. Make rising early a social activity

While there’s obvious value in joining a Lifehack Challenge in order to get you started as an early riser, your internet buddies just don’t have enough pull to make your new habit stick in the long term. The same cannot be said for the people you spend time with as part of your early morning routine.

Sure, you could choose to read blogs for two hours every morning. But wouldn’t it be great to join an early breakfast club, running group, or play chess in the park at 5am? The more people you get involved in making your new habit a daily part of your life, the easier it’ll be to succeed.

4. Don’t use an alarm that makes you angry

If we’re all wired differently, why do we all insist on torturing ourselves with the same sort of alarm each morning? I spent years trying to wake up before my alarm went off so I wouldn’t have to hear it. I got pretty good, too. Then I started using a cellphone as my alarm clock and quickly realized that different ring tones irritated me less but worked just as well to wake me up. I now use the ring tone alarm as a back up for my bedside lamp plugged in to a timer.

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When the bright light doesn’t work, the cellphone picks up the slack and I wake up on time. The lesson learned? Experiment a bit and see what works best for you. Light, sound, smells, temperature, or even some contraption that dumps water on you might be more pleasant than your old alarm clock. Give something new a try!

5. Get your blood flowing right after waking

If you don’t have a neighbor you can pick fights with at 5am you’ll have to settle with a more mundane exercise. It doesn’t take much to get your blood flowing and chase the sleep from your head. Just pick something you don’t mind doing and go through the motions until your heart rate is up. Jumping rope, push-ups, crunches, or a few minutes of yoga are typically enough to do the trick. (Just don’t do anything your doctor hasn’t approved.)

If you live in a beautiful part of the world like me, you might want to use a bit of your early morning to go for a walk and enjoy the beauty of the world around you. If you have a coffee shop open within walking distance, dragging yourself out of bed for a cup of coffee to savor on your walk home as the world wakes around you is a wonderful experience. Try it!

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Featured photo credit: Frank Vex via unsplash.com

Reference

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