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Less Thinking, More Doing: Develop the Action Habit Today

Less Thinking, More Doing: Develop the Action Habit Today

“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” – Paulo Coelho

Everybody wants advice but nobody wants to do the work. If you cut the time you spend deliberating in half and spent that time actively pursuing what you want, how much farther ahead do you think you’d be? Answer honestly but don’t agonize over it (because “stressing over all that stuff in that past sure made me feel better!” said nobody anywhere ever). Your challenge, should you accept it: Less thinking, more doing. Are you in? If so, check out these 15 ways to develop the action habit.

1. Begin with the end in mind.

Drop your preconceived notions. Forget about what “society” or your friends or your family expect of you. What do you want out of life? What do you want to be remembered for? Be true to yourself and don’t worry about anybody else. Your life is yours and yours alone. It might be helpful to imagine what you think success would look like in a year or two. Begin with that and work backwards to create action steps that will take you from Point A to Point B.

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2. Slow and steady wins the race.

As much as you might want something to be quick-and-easy, life just doesn’t work that way. If you run into this adventure with guns blazing, odds are you’ll find yourself in an insurmountable state of overwhelm. If you want this, start training your patience muscles because you’ll need them (trust me).

3. Break your Big Goal into baby goals.

You know what’s super discouraging? Goals so incredibly ambitious that success is like a mirage in the desert because no matter how much you move forward, you can’t help feeling like you haven’t made any visible progress. Don’t aim for 50 lbs; just lose the first 5. If you want to write a play that rivals Shakespearean tragedies, how about beginning with full focus on the first act?

4. Celebrate every minor victory.

Baby goals are great for your esteem because they offer a constant stream of positive feedback that will make you feel happy, encouraged, and productive. I don’t know about you, but I think it would be more fun to perform 20 touchdown dances than just 1.

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5. Keep your eye on the prize.

Inspiration is a fleeting thing. The temptation to quit will become overwhelming, but to stay on track, remind yourself of why you want to achieve your goal in the first place. The daily grind has a way of making us lose sight of our priorities.

6. Learn from the best and brightest…

Believe it or not, you’re not alone. I’m willing to wager that people in this world are doing or have done the very thing you want to do. Read their books and blogs to learn what worked for them (and save yourself some trouble). Why reinvent the wheel when a brief remodeling will do?

7. …but stay true to you.

Do look for outside inspiration that will point you in the right direction but do not become a mere clone of another person. The reek of phoniness is so foul that it cannot be hidden (and nobody likes a rip-off).

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8. Be ready to make sacrifices.

What’s more important: success or recreation? This isn’t to say you can’t have both, but action takers strive for a healthy balance between the two. Close your door so you can get work done. Roomies too much to handle? Go to a coffee shop or park bench with your notebook or laptop. Turn down the occasional invitation to a bar or restaurant if you’re in the process of flexing your hustle muscle.

9. Watch out for time bandits.

Time flies when you’re on the internet. Have you ever logged on to Facebook, Pinterest, or Reddit and told yourself you would only spend a “little while” there, but the next time you looked at the clock it was 2 or 3 hours later? Also, put down your phone. Those little 5-minute Facebook excursions can add up in a hurry. For the sake of example: If you check your Facebook 5 times a day for 5 minutes per log-in on 5 days per week, you are burning 2 hours per week.

10. Efficiency is your friend.

Strapped for time? Cook in bulk. Choose the least busy day of the week, gather your groceries, and knock-out 5-7 days of meals in a single shot. My favorite bulk-cook dishes: spaghetti with lean beef, grilled chicken salad and stir fry with white rice, tuna, corn, peas, and carrots (try this with a squeeze of lemon: you won’t be sorry).

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11. Find an accountability team.

The best friends are the ones who don’t belittle you but at the same time don’t allow you to settle for anything less than your best. Make friends with people in your field via networking events like your area Chamber of Commerce or online support groups on LinkedIn.

12. Know when to walk away.

Who says you need to work until you find yourself in a comatose state? Working beyond the brink of exhaustion is counterproductive. Not only will your work past this point be subpar, but you’ll also run the risk of creating an association with your work and misery. The best work comes from a place of love and happiness. If you’re not feeling it, take the dog for a walk, catch up with some friends, take a vacation, or do something (anything!) else.

13. There is always time for fun.

Yes, you do have to make sacrifices if you desire success. No, this doesn’t mean you can’t have fun on occasion. Life isn’t meant to be devoid of fun and play. Your hard work won’t vanish during your escape; on the contrary, you’ll come back with re-charged drive and ambition.

14. Evolve as much as necessary.

Stubbornly clinging to past beliefs that were dead-wrong will sink your odds of success faster than you can say “dummkopf.” Be ready for failure, but don’t stress about it (because it’s just a learning opportunity). Brace yourself for the realization that no, you don’t have it all figured out (a fact that life will rub in your face over and over again). Sound nasty? It really isn’t. The only way to evolve is through trial and error. Keep on improving and your odds of acheiving will get better and better with every failure.

15. Go do something.

What follows is the action habit to end all action habits: All of the self-help articles in the world can’t save you if you never take action. Every time you read a book or article like this, immediately apply something from it (no matter how big or small). How are you going to apply this today?

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Daniel Wallen

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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