This technique will help you accomplish two key objectives.
First, it will show you if you have been consuming self-improvement junk. If you have never heard this technique or something similar, you have been consuming garbage and need better vanes and filters.
That podcast you are listening to is a waste of your life. That book of “hacks” you are reading was the work of a hack. That improvement of your habits is just another habit of procrastination away from your real life’s work.
Second, it will give you a very simple blueprint to fall back on every and ANY time you are anxious, lazy or confused about what you need to do next.
It’s an Integration of independence of the outcome and the death-ground maneuver. You can practice it in almost any situation where your survival isn’t imminently at stake. Its massive advantage is that it requires zero judgement and decision. You can 100% coast on availability bias and circumstance.
The technique is even simpler than it seems:
- Pick a task.
- Set a clear deadline for working exclusively on the task.
- Start working on it immediately.
OK, but what means?
1. Pick a task.
Any non-consumption task that you conceivably need to complete.
Don’t try to prioritize or overthink. Only make sure that the task has a concrete result as its proximate objective and avoid redefining consumption as a productive task.
Doing 50 burpees or cleaning your fridge is a productive task. Reading a book or listening to a podcast probably isn’t. (Unless you are summarizing it for you blog, for example. That adds a concrete productive result. There is an immediate output.)
2. Set a clear deadline for working exclusively on the task.
“I will do this and nothing else for the next 2 hours.”
Nothing else means literally nothing else.
Note that the actual result is irrelevant to the setup or the deadline. You only need to have a concrete result in mind, but you need not overthink or plan anything further on that basis. Allocate a certain amount of time to work on it without interruption. You will get the result. Or you won’t.
3. Start working on it immediately.
That prevents any procrastination or anxiety from sneaking in.
If it’s 13:41 and I want to work on an article for two hours until 16:00, I’m not going to wait until 14:00 to start. I will start immediately and allow myself plenty of time to “take it easy” while doing it.
As long as “taking it easy” doesn’t involve any external distraction. I don’t beat myself up for getting distracted, but I get distracted with the task itself and nothing else.
Which almost certainly means your deeldophone needs to be turned off and locked away in a drawer behind you.
Perhaps I should have added a fourth step: do not overthink this protocol.
Of course it is better and more effective to be focused and deliberate and well-prepared in advance of setting out to accomplish something.
But our goal here isn’t naïve optimization.
Our goal is to apply a foolproof method to disrupt your habits of fear, laziness and procrastination.
Our goal is to leverage the systematic effects of momentum and compounding.
Our goal is continuous Integration over time.
Deeper dives in upcoming missives.
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Build tall and prosper,