This article was inspired by a reddit discussion where I suggested defining your tasks the night before so you can get more done in the morning. Here is the follow-up question:
I’m usually like that, I get a burst of energy/motivation at night and I make a nice plan of all the tasks for the next day. Then the next day rolls around and I just can’t seem to start any of the tasks, I don’t have the energy/motivation for them or they seem to hard/daunting for me to even start.
How can I combat this? How can I DO them regardless of how hard, scary, or daunting they look?
It’s important to know that everyone struggles with this at first because it’s much harder to do than the alternative i.e. lie in bed and do nothing. But like anything in life, once you do it often enough and gain momentum it becomes 100 times easier.
With that being said, this is what I use to get going in the morning and win the day.
Two part solution: Mindset and Practical
Take your work seriously
Do you want your next 5 years to be the same as your last 5 years? If yes, keep doing what you’re doing, but if not then you must do different things.
You can’t notice it now but with every day you put things off you miss more and more opportunities.
Do this. Take a piece of paper and split it down the middle.
On the left side write what your life could look like 5 years from now if you fulfilled your potential.
On the right side write what your life would look like if you kept procrastinating even more, imagine the downward spiral and the worst case scenarios, use your imagination and get creative until that worst case scenario starts to scare you.
Now you have one thing to run towards and another thing to run away from. This is powerful. Read it every morning for that double boost. This is inspired from Jordan Peterson’s future authoring program: https://www.selfauthoring.com/future-authoring.
Do you have any other choice?
You have a goal and you have a plan right?
Now set a deadline and affirm to yourself that quitting is not an option before the deadline.
When you wake up in the morning, remind yourself that the deciding part is already over. You can’t keep deciding now wether you’re going to do it or not. The smarter you from yesterday had already decided.
Your have three options this morning:
- Move forward.
- Do nothing.
You must recognize that stalling is the same as quitting.
But you already decided that quitting is not an option before the deadline. So the only choice is to move forward.
Achieve Flow with 100% effort
Let’s say it takes 10 to 20% mental effort to watch a youtube video or browse through reddit. Then to do something productive like code, design, write or build it takes a minimum of 60% mental effort. If you stay in the 60 to 90% effort it will feel like real pain in the ass and it truly is a pain the ass if you’re not 100% focused.
Go beyond that 90% threshold by eliminating distractions and pushing through when you feel like giving up.
Pushing through will kick your brain into 5th gear and this will make all the difference. It just takes a while the first time, but that’s true with everything. I’m not saying you need to push through for hours at a time, just don’t give up after 10 minutes.
Getting to 100% focus is a skill, a muscle that needs to be developed. So start with short Pomodoro sessions of 25 minutes of 100% focused work and then 5-10 minutes of break. After few sessions take a longer break of 30 minutes. Then rinse and repeat. At the beginning you might only do 1,2 session before getting distracted, but over time you can get to 5 or 6.
Consumer vs Producer
At any time of the day you are either consuming or producing.
Producing is the goal. Consuming is a necessity.
Consuming in the form of eating, drinking, watching, listening.
Producing in the form of exercising, writing, working or expanding energy in any way.
Start your day with producing: make your bed, clean up, get dressed and don’t eat.
Producing begets producing. Consuming begets consuming.
Spend the majority of your day producing and make consuming a necessity.
At least during the day when you have work to do: eat modestly, drink modestly and consume any digital content modestly. Keep in mind that any consumption pulls you in the opposite direction of production. They really are polar opposites.
Become productive beforehand
Go to sleep earlier
We are all excited and enthusiastic the night before when planning out the tasks. But the morning is a different story.
So why don’t you start the productivity momentum the night before by going to bed earlier. Doesn’t have to be 1 hour earlier, 20 minutes is enough. You will go to bed knowing you did the right thing and you improved from the night before. This will increase your confidence while you sleep because sleep tends to enforce the last thoughts we had.
Make your bed
By making your bed first thing in the morning you get the first win of the day. You are a productive person just 30 seconds after walking up. Then go brush your teeth and get dressed, don’t lounge around. 10 minutes have passed and you already completed 3 tasks: made your bed, brushed your teeth and got dressed, you are a productivity machine!!! Now the first task from your project is actually your 4th task of the day, it’s no big deal.
Bonus tip: Recently I started taking a walk every morning and it really helps with walking up and activating my brain. There are biological and evolutionary connections between movement and brain function that I will go into detail in another article.
Stupid Small Tasks
Make the tasks small at the beginning and I mean really stupid small. Tim Ferris is a famous productivity author who has written gigantic books. His daily commitment for writing is 1 crapy page per day, that’s it. Some days he only does that and the day is a success. But on other days that one page gets him going and he continues to write 30 more pages. So make your tasks as small as possible. For example while building LifeHQ I start with the following tasks:
These are so stupid anyone can do them. But there is something about getting my fingers moving on the keyboard and checking things off my list. This takes 5 minutes and it gets me going.
What if you haven’t started your project at all?
You need to break down the big overwhelming project into small tasks. Good news, it only takes 10 minutes.
- Separate your project into few major milestones.
- Take apart one milestone and split it into a dozen bigger tasks.
- Choose one big task and sketch out a rough solution on a piece of paper.
- Now create the small tasks as steps towards the solution you already have.
- Remember, the small tasks need to be concrete and actionable.
Call To Action
There is more to success than just creating tasks and projects. LifeHQ is a complete system that keeps you on track with your goals and helps you transform into the best version of yourself. LifeHQ will help you to:
- Organize of your knowledge
- Define your goals, chunk them into smaller pieces and crush them
- Manage your projects and finish them on time
- Adopt new habits with ease
Here is a small preview of the awesomeness.