Sometimes, Progress is Continuing Old Plans…

Sometimes, Progress is Continuing Old Plans…

As we get things going in the New Year, I have found myself in reflection, as we all do at this time. The key questions on our minds are – what do we want and what will we do to get it?

If we have been doing this for a while, then we look back to our previous answers to those questions. We look back at our goals and plans from yesteryear. We see what worked and what didn’t, we see where we made progress and where we stalled.

Then we tweak and we move.

In this present cycle, I am coming to realise that sometimes, progress is simply continuing old plans.

If you have done the work to know yourself and craft a purpose for yourself. Then much by way of aim doesn’t change. You know what you want, a fulfilling career, good health, loving relationships, etc.

At the same time, when you first set these goals, you probably thought you could get them done relatively quickly. And sometimes, you can. But often, we overestimate our abilities, and we misjudge the road to our goal. Things usually take much longer than you think.

And that’s pretty cool because, if you are clear about who you are and what you want, you can essentially spend your life pursuing that. You could spend a lot of time executing and refining a plan, over years and decades.

For me, progress in 2024 looks like picking up goals from 2023, from 2022, from 2017, seeing which ones have been achieved and which ones remain untackled. It looks like refining the routine, refreshing the approach, tweaking the strategy, and learning from failure.

It looks like celebrating what has been fixed and looking towards what comes next.

It looks like finally being able to start tackling things that have seemed impossible before.

Refine your systems

The ability to return to my notes and archives after a break and more or less pick up where I left off, is something that always amazes me. That is the power of being organised, of having things in their set place. So when you need to pick up the project again you don’t have to go searching for things. The friction to getting started again is reduced. All you need to do is review the material, load the project onto your mind, and get to work.

This is why we must keep refining and updating our systems. We need to be considered in the way we handle information, keep notes, keep track of resources, organise plans. The ease and effectiveness of our lives depend on the strength of our systems.

It is easy to continue old plans when they are easily accessible.

Embrace the practice

The journey to success is unending. Once one objective is reached, we move to another. The point is perpetual growth, and constant evolution. The point is the journey, not the destination.

We understand that focusing on our systems as opposed to goals is a more effective way to get what we want. Baking the tasks we need to do into our daily routine, and into our way of life allows us to achieve our goals with ease.

In this way, we create a daily texture to our days that keeps us sharp and moving towards our goals. It helps us understand that this is a long process and that we keep weaving the tapestry of our lives, one thread at a time.

So in continuing old plans, we embrace the practice, the day-to-day. Refining our actions, and our rituals. Slowly improving this, slowly improving that.

We embrace the practice in learning, in studying, in practicing…our craft, our roles, our obligations. We seek to make the ‘doing’ always better than the last time. We perpetually improve.

Focus on the goal

Simply practicing is not enough though, we have to be directed. The point is the journey, yes, but the goal gives us focus, it gives us direction, and instruction.

Keep the goal in front of you. Make it lofty.

And pursue it relentlessly, let all your efforts be so directed.

Challenge assumptions

Sometimes we remain stuck, not because of lack of ability, but because of a fault in perspective. Sometimes, all it takes is one shift to make the difference. In prayer, meditation, and journalling, we find the tools to examine ourselves and our views, to tease out insights that unravel the tangled mess of our ambitions by tugging on the strands of perspective.

With these mantras, we can continue to let our moves stack on each other. We can continue to improve, to grow, becoming more capable and more effective.

We can continue our plans and hit heights we never imagined.

How to Get Things Done When You Don’t Feel Like It

How to Get Things Done When You Don’t Feel Like It

Winning the war against the Resistance

Around the end of last year, a friend asked me a question. He had two websites to get done before he was done for the year, but he was finding it tough to muster up the motivation to get it done. He had planned the projects out and knew what he had to do, but for the life of him, he just couldn’t actually do it.

He had also been reading Steven Pressfield’s book ‘Do the Work’ and wondered how I tackled Resistance, that force that seems to rise up and trip you up when you trying to do anything worthwhile.

And that got me thinking…

I’ve written about resistance before, here when I spoke about ‘Turning Pro’.

Resistance is that ever present inertia, that force that seems to always be waiting to trip you up when it’s time to do something important. You know the feeling. You really want to work out, but you are feeling lazy, or unmotivated. You really want to pick up the brush and work on that painting but it’s easier to pick up the game controller instead.

Anytime we want to do something inspired by our higher self, our baser self rises up to meet it. There comes the fear, the distraction, the self-doubt, the addiction, the timidity, the self-loathing, the perfectionism. The Resistance deploys every weapon in its arsenal to make sure you stop.

But that’s good news. The Resistance means that this thing is important. In fact, you could argue that it is the great thing you want to do that has sparked the Resistance.

Before resistance comes idea. this means that before the dragon of resistance rears its ugly head and breathe fire into our faces, there existed within us a force so potent and life-affirming that it summoned this beast into being, perversely, to combat it.

Steven Pressfield – Do the Work

Whenever you need to do something worthwhile, that sense of fear, that anxiety, that excuse will rise up. So, how do you face it down and get things done anyway?

  • Just do it, just get started. As bullshit as that sounds. Sometimes you just have to do it. Don’t over think it, don’t worry about being perfect. You just have to ignore the inertia and get to it. Start by doing it badly if you must, just start. Many times you will find that once you get started and get the ball rolling, It becomes much easier to keep going.
  • Embrace the pain, lean into the resistance. Acknowledge that it sucks. Work can be painful, you’d rather be doing anything else. Suck it up and do it. Embrace the pain as an integral part of the process. Learn to enjoy it. Become your hero. Become the Spartan warrior staring down the horde. Become Batman cleaning up Gotham by night. Let the fire of work purify you and bring you deep fulfilment.

Hear the late Nipsey Hussle talk about this very thing here

  • Think about how bad do you want/need it. An easy way to overcome the Resistance is to think about how bad you need it. When it’s do or die, when your back is to the wall, there is no time to indulge the Resistance, there is only time for results. It is easy to do what needs to be done when it absolutely has to get done. You don’t need a candle when you are on fire.
  • Listen to the resistance, it might be time to stop. But if you don’t really want it, if the reason is not really compelling, if you are chasing the wrong goal, then listen to the Resistance. Sometimes the right response is not to press on, but to pull back. The Resistance might be there for a reason. To tell you that this thing doesn’t serve you anymore, that there is a better way. If that’s the case, drop it and attend to something greater, something more in line with your spirit.

In what part of your life is the Resistance kicking your ass and how are you going to tackle it?

These 8 Bad Habits Could Help You Succeed

These 8 Bad Habits Could Help You Succeed

As a person who has been obsessed with the ideas of personal development and self growth for a long time, I have espoused many times the usual mantras of hard work, putting in the time, waking up early, and so on.

In my life experience however, I’ve noticed that even though a lot of these things are useful and definitely do have their place in the pursuit of excellence and fulfilment, sometimes, doing the opposite can also have positive effects.

In my last post, I briefly highlighted how you can actually break the rules if you respect core truths. Here are some of the ‘bad’ things you can do that could actually help you succeed.

This piece was inspired by this article by Jessica Wildfire. So if this intrigues you, definitely check that out as well.

So without further ado, here are 8 bad habits that could help you succeed.

Wake up whenever you want

Shout out to the 5am club. I am just not one of ya’ll. At least not yet. At least not all the time. A little caveat. Of course this would not work for you if you have a job, or a routine that demands that things happen at a certain time. But if you are unmarried and without kids, and also working remote or for yourself, then you could indulge yourself by waking up whenever you like.

For the past couple years, I have had the most erratic sleep and wake up times. But more often than not, I am awake till very late at night. These days, I am up until noon the very next day when my body starts to shut down, and then my day would begin around 8pm. It is admitted weird, but those all night work sessions are some of the most focused and productive I ever have. It doesn’t matter so much when you wake up or go to sleep. What matters is the quality of your sleep and what you do when you are awake.

Be lazy

Hard work is key. I believe in pushing hard. I believe in being obsessive. I believe in putting it all on the line. The work is the work, and the work must be done. However, too many times, we are working furiously climbing up the wrong ladder, trying to scale the wrong wall. Sometimes when we feel the urge to be lazy, the lack of desire to engage with work, it is because we really do not want to, it is because we are misaligned. This is a good time to be lazy, to ease up. To do the bare minimum, to recover and refocus. To discover what we really want to do, what will excite us, what will drive us. Be lazy long enough and you can discover a better way. Often, our obsession with working hard is just an excuse to not apply ourselves in working smart. It can be much easier to do what we normally do, instead of putting in the effort to allocate our time effectively.

Disappear from the world

A big part of success is being engaged and connected with the world. No one lives in a vacuum and the more tapped into your network, the more opportunities come your way. There are times we must do the opposite, times we must withdraw. In times of overwhelm and burnout. When we have given all and we are empty. Pulling away can give us that much needed rest and perspective to make the changes we need to make and come back stronger.

Follow your obsessions

In the midst of being lazy and withdrawing from the world, you might start to feel something well up within you, a new interest, an old obsession. Nurture it and indulge in it. For a long time, I was completely over watching or listening to anything growth related. I suddenly grew a deep interest in political systems, long breakdowns and analysis of modern media, and video games. None of them have been directly useful to my business yet, but they have enriched my mind, my life experience, my thinking and the way I engage with the world around and indirectly affected my creative output and connection to the people around me.

Have fun/Party

All work, and no play makes Jack dull af. Life is short. Enjoy it. Sure, this is an area where you can overdo it. But it is okay to go out, to be social, to see and be seen. It might be vain and futile sometimes, and even a waste of time and money. But it can also be a great time to connect with friends, to make new memories, to bond, and sometimes, even to network.

Play video games/Have hobbies

Some people say you shouldn’t play games at all. And I used to be in that camp. I always wondered what the point of engaging in virtual worlds was, when you could simply just engage with life itself. Life is the biggest open world RPG you could play. But video games as a whole are an incredible achievement, a mix of art, science, technology, design and storytelling to give you some of the most immersive and engaging experiences every created by man. So play if you like. Play helps us see things in new ways, helps us grow, process trauma, and grow and learn. I for one have learned a lot about life playing video games. Sometimes when I’m facing something tough in life, I think about bashing my head repeatedly against a particularly hard boss, and I think to myself, if I could do that, then I can do this.

Binge

There is nothing like a good binge. Whether that is partying, watching that new show on Netflix or spending 12 hours straight at your desk working. the idea is dive completely into whatever you are doing. It would be a bit intense, but you will come out of that session better for it. You would have scratched the itch you needed to, and come out relaxed and chilled enough to get back to work. Or if you were bingeing work, you would have let it all on the court and come off exhausted ready to rest. The point is, sometimes it is good to binge.

Work when you feel like it

Some people think you should show up every single day, whether you feel like it or not. There is surely a place for that. Sometimes you just have to show up. The muse should find you waiting and ready. Other times though, the inspiration just isn’t there. If you aren’t feeling it, the best thing to do might be to just not do it. Do something else. Go hangout with friends, go play 6 hours of your favourite video game. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left the work to do something else, and then inspiration hits me at the weirdest time and I’m good to go.

Even typing this right now is a good example. The whole day yesterday, I was in the dumps, so I did nothing but sleep really. Today, I’ve been been at my desk since 4:30am. C’est la vie.

Exploring Relaxed Productivity

Exploring Relaxed Productivity

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the concept of “Relaxed Productivity”. The past few weeks have been a bit manic. I’ve been juggling multiple projects, chasing new business, creating new products and producing more content than I usually do. It has been a bit crazy.

So last week, I wanted to try a different tact. Or at least, I could afford to try. See, I always have the experienced of being almost at the edge of overwhelm. My fingers are always in a lot of different projects, I’m always doing a lot of work. But that comes with its cost. Eventually things devolve. The work gets a bit sloppy, projects are rushed and I slip into extreme fatigue. Something has to give. I spent most of the other week in a sleep deprived state. I got stuff done and done very well, but it left me exhausted.

In 2018 or so I came across the concept of ‘Working to Live’ and it started to change the way i approached work. The thing as a freelancer, one man band, mercenary, is that it is very easy to get overwhelmed with work. There are always requests coming your way, projects to be finished, projects that were finished coming back with more stuff or edits or changes. There is always more work.

You can also be incentivised to take on more work. Because the more you work, the more you earn. At the same time, it can be difficult to charge as high as is needed, because otherwise then you don’t close the deal, and sometimes you need the cashflow however small so you take the hit. Plus, people almost never pay when they say they will, projects get stuck in limbo or fall off completely. And when they do pay, they want things yesterday. So you get stuck in a loop, taking a lot of work to make the money you desire and then bumping up against time and energy constraints. You end up working ridiculous hours and crashing and burning repeatedly.

Is there another way?

Is what I’ve been wondering.

I have come across local creatives talking about how they are fully booked for months. So I’d imagine they are simply spending the next few months only working on what’s already on their plate. That seems nice, like they already have enough in the bank, or charged high enough to be able to maintain such a schedule. Also it means that they have enough time to really dig into the project and get things done to a high standard.

Must be nice, I want in also.

To Work to Live means to schedule ones life around life as much as possible, instead of work. It means scheduling the things that are important first – like rest, like exercise, and eating, or chores, and then scheduling work around that. Now sure, this is a very privileged place to be in. But if you already have control of your time as an entrepreneur or freelancer then this is a worthy goal to strive for.

What principles would have to be in place?

Reduce your footprint

If your bills and needs are high, then you will always need to be generating income. And if you generate income from your work/labour, then you are going to have to work a lot. Reducing your footprint and reconsidering your lifestyle can give you the space you need to position yourself better and work more sustainably.

Plan at least a week ahead

To have a more relaxed and productive workflow, you need to have clarity over your time, resources and tasks and set things up accordingly. You would need to plan your life at least a week a time and front load it with the right amount of work. Know what needs to be done each week and really be honest about how much time things will take. Any other tasks that come up would have to compete against the already assigned task or move to the next week.

That means probably no rush projects, if you can help it.

Strive to be as effective as possible

If you only have limited time to work, then you have to make sure you are working on the most important things. Prioritise the important things and the things that will give the biggest results. Then you can get around to all the other stuff. Make the time you spend working count.

Be more valuable

To enjoy more relaxed productivity, you are probably going to need to increase your income. And you can do that by increasing your value, improving your skills, and selling your value to the clients who can afford it. You are going to raise those prices to attract and service the right market.

Innovate your business model

To be able to strive to a more relaxed level of productivity, you would need to work differently. Make your business or setup less dependent on you and built upon systems that can run without you. That could mean selling products, hiring people, or leveraging digital platforms. Position yourself for scalable exponential growth and that could earn you your freedom

Enjoy the time off

It can be easy to fall back into old patterns of toxic hustle culture. And there’s a time and place for that. Sometimes you do have to go all out and work like crazy, but when we in relaxed mode, we want to allow ourselves to actually enjoy the time off. For a workaholics like me, it can be hard to turn the brain off and just do something else. But invest the time in yourself, in your experiences, in your relationships and funny enough, it might just make you even better at your work.

5 ways to supercharge your productivity

5 ways to supercharge your productivity

In a previous post, I shared my experience with upgrading my living space, and as I mentioned then, the experience has inspired me to take a closer look at productivity as a whole. Although I am already fairly organized, I know there is still plenty room for improvement.

And as I dive down the rabbit hole and nerd out on productivity tools and frameworks over the next couple of weeks, I will share ideas on how to improve how we get stuff done and stay on track with all our concerns.

I find myself asking questions like. What does my workflow look like now? How do I stay on top of everything? How do I become more effective and efficient? How do I ensure I do the things that usually tend to fall through the cracks? What systems do I have in place to capture all the ideas, tasks, requests I have and be able process them well?

How do I read more and retain information? How do I gather my notes in such a way that it is easy to access and apply those insights? How do I keep up to date with all my projects and make sure they are moving forward?

A lot of questions I’m sure I will have a lot of fun trying to answer. But even now, there are some quick ideas I can think of to help take your productivity to the next level, and make yourself even more effective.

Have a prep/planning day

If you don’t already do this, then you need to set a day and a time to plan your week. Every week.

If you are able to build the habit of checking in with your goals, intentions, tasks and priorities weekly, you stand a much better chance of staying aligned to it over the long term.

This is the time that you take to review the week that has passed and look over the one coming. You can do this on a Sunday before the week officially starts, or on Monday morning, or whenever really. As long as it happens every week.

In this time you get to empty your mind of all the reminders, and tasks and requests that have been swirling up there and objectively sift through them to prioritise the most important things to get done in the coming week.

This is absolutely crucial if you want to keep your plates properly juggled.

Make your calendar your best friend

I’m not yet great at this, but in my research, I have seen quite a few people swear by having a calendar. It is a vital component to your productivity and time management.

The idea is to make sure that every appointment, call to make, birthday, event to attend, you want to make sure all of that is captured in your calendar so you don’t forget. Instead of having to keep all of that in your head, all you need to do is pull up the calendar and be reminded of what you need to do by when.

Another powerful use of the calendar is to use it to time block. You can actively plan your day hour by hour the day before according to your prioritised todo list, and actually block off time for each task. So when you start the day, you have a clear game plan, and at any point in the day, you know what you should be working on.

Obviously you can move things around as you need them, but having a plan in the first place is invaluable in putting you in control of your day. It eliminates distractions and keeps you focused and accountable.

Organized productivity boils down to a few main principles

When trying to be organised and productive, people often worry about the details – what tools to use, what apps to download, what is the best notebook, etc. But truth is, the tools are less important than the underlying system and principles.

There are a few main principles to getting things done, those boil down to – capturingfilteringschedulingevaluating. You want to be able to reliably and consistently data dump all requests, tasks and ideas into appropriate apps and notes. You want to be able to filter and prioritise all that stuff. Then you need to be able to schedule the most important tasks or steps of your ongoing projects. And you also want a system where you can monitor what you are doing and review and adjust as needed.

Once you have these main things in place, it doesn’t matter exactly what tools you use, just that they work for you.

Invest in your tools

Whatever you do for work or creativity, there are the tools of your trade that you use regularly. You probably use a computer, you might need a camera, or a ring light, or some notepads and pencils. Evaluate what you do, and what you need to get it done. Invest in improving your tools from time to time. Get things that are durable, as top of the line as you can afford, as nice as you can afford. If you enjoy using your tools, you will enjoy your work.

The day I switched from a PC based set up to Mac was a game-changer for me personally and I haven’t looked back since. Getting an extra screen boosted my workflow and productivity. The Logitech MX3 mouse I started using this weekend is already having quite the impact on the way I work and design.

Invest in your tools and leverage them to become better at what you do.

It is all about reducing friction

I mentioned this already in my post about upgrading your environment, but it bears repeating here. What being organized and improving productivity is all about is making it easier and more fun to do what we need to get done.

Having a neat and clearly define place for everything allows you to easily find what you need when you need it. Using your calendar allows you to free up mental space to actually be creative or problem solve with the peace of mind that nothing is falling through the cracks. Having a proper note taking system allows you to access the information you need when you need it. Designing and fine-tuning your workstation to your needs make its easier to plug in and get things done.

Keep evolving your productivity practice and finding ways to reduce friction and you will find it easier to breeze through your work and reclaim the time and space you deserve to enjoy life.