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The “What’s Up Doc?” Way of Getting Productive

The “What’s Up Doc?” Way of Getting Productive

    Have you seen me around?

    I’ve been all over the blogosphere lately – name your authority blog, and I’ve probably been on it; Copyblogger, Problogger, Think Traffic, Freelance Switch, DIY Themes, KISSmetrics, and about a dozen others, all in the last few weeks.

    (Some people have taken to calling me the “Freddy Krueger of Blogging” because wherever you turn, I’m there!) ;) And that’s on top of a major product launch on my own blog, my regular consulting work… and oh, yeah, planning my wedding, which is in just a few weeks.

    So yes, I’ve been busy. People are asking me how I find the time to get it all done – have I given up sleep? Do I have clones out there doing work on my behalf?

    Of course, the answer is no – but I do have a productivity secret that I learned from a cartoon character…

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    When it’s Okay to Run Off a Cliff

    The cartoon in question, of course, is Bugs Bunny. But what does he have to do with running off a cliff? (And what does that have to do with productivity?)

    The answer is that when you’re a cartoon, running off a cliff is perfectly okay – it only becomes dangerous when you look down.

    This bit of cartoon comedy comes packed with an extra-large helping of wisdom and life lessons, if you know where to look. And yes – those life lessons are all about productivity and achievement.

    What You Get is What You See

    Most of us work under the assumption that what we get is what we see. In other words, stuff is out there, and that stuff dictates our reality:

    STUFF IS OUT THERE -> THAT’S OUR REALITY

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    But the cartoon world works a little bit differently; yes, lots of stuff is out there, but only the stuff that the cartoon is aware of is part of its reality:

    STUFF IS OUT THERE -> YOU FOCUS ON SOME OF IT -> THAT’S THE REALITY

    As long as the cartoon is focusing on where they’re going, and isn’t worrying about all the obstructing details along the way, they can keep moving towards their goal.

    The funny thing is that the cartoons have got it right; the life lesson is in the fact that things work the same way for us that they do for them – our reality is determined by the things that we focus on, and allow in to our sphere of attention.

    The cartoons can all run off cliffs, because they focus on where they’re going, instead of the huge drop below them. But the cartoons all make the same mistake: they look down.

    You Don’t Have To Look Down!

    We all have that lingering temptation to look down.

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    You know what I’m talking about – the little voices urging us to think about all the things that could go wrong, why you won’t be able to achieve your goals, and why you aren’t ready for this challenge.

    Sooner or later, most people listen to those voices, and start doubting whether they can really achieve what they’re trying to achieve.

    And then we start slowing down, and losing momentum.

    Before you know it, we’re standing still in mid-air, looking down at the drop below.

    And then we fall. And boy, do we ever fall!

    But it doesn’t have to be this way. The whole process can be avoided by not looking down!

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    Don’t Bury Your Head In the Sand, Either!

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting that you bury your head in the sand like an ostrich, and just ignore everything that comes your way.

    When the voices start whispering that you’re biting off more than you can chew, and this or that obstacle will stop you dead in its tracks, you really should give them a little bit of attention – hear them out, and ask yourself whether this new obstacle require an adjustment to your plans?

    If the answer is yes, then adjust as needed.

    If the answer is no, then keep on going.

    But either way, once you’ve heard them out and adjusted your plans if needed, tell them to shut up, and get back to work!

    It may sound simple, but that’s the whole secret behind my guest posting, marketing training program, wedding planning, upcoming books, and everything else I’m doing.

    I don’t listen to the voices, and I don’t look down – and the results speak for themselves!

    Hat tip to Jk Allen and Stuart Mills, who inspired this post!

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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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