When you’re lucky enough to have an IV bag of inspiration coursing through your veins, you don’t need any help getting things done. No coach, no book, no advice, no motivational posters matter at that point.
You simply hang on to the reins of revelation and ride it for as long as you can.
Sadly those days are about as rare as steak tartare.
Far too often we’re up against the slodge of boring days, the days we can’t tell apart, and the days we won’t remember. Face it, most days seem about as eventful as a mixer at a monastery.
And yet, your success depends on getting stuff done even when you don’t feel like it.
The best way to do that is to embrace productivity’s runt of the litter: process.
Process is what happens when inspiration isn’t looking. It sits at the opposite end of the see-saw from “When I feel like it.”
Note: Processes Suck*
It’s not that we don’t know the benefits of a process, it’s that creating a process elicits about as much fun as “Root Canal Mondays.”
Just look at the synonyms for process: procedure, operation, undertaking, method, system, technique.
Go ahead, throw up in your mouth a little bit. It’s ok.
Creating a process means you have to figure out what works for you outside of anything you’ve read or heard someone else do.
Whoa whoa whoa. I have to DO work to figure out how to do more work? WTF?!
Yup. Because if not, we leave everything up to emotion. And what happens when we leave everything to impulsive decision making? More anxiety-laced catastrophes than we would ideally like to face. Like this one:
Not only did that photo make you laugh, it has a certain component we’re all attracted to, the human factor. The part of us that keep us from being C3PO.
Screw the script, let’s improv.
Some of the best stories in life (at least in my life) were filled with all the antonyms of process: disorganized, helter skelter, haphazard, chaotic, improvise.
As I pointed out last week, we love to not give a shit. We love to be partying on the cobble-stoned streets of Cadiz, Spain during carnaval without knowing where we’re going to sleep that night.
Improvising, after all, is what makes us unique. It magnifies our ability to adapt on the spot. But it’s an adaptation from what? Peel back the onion of that question and you’ll find at the core is some sort of process.
When it comes to productivity, our problem is that we somehow still think that deep down we are different than everyone else, that when we want to focus, we can just turn on a switch and get it done but we just don’t want to or choose not to because of mystery reasons 1 thru 14.
While there is a time a place to be flying by the seat of your pants, you first need a pair of pants.
Process 1st. Adaptation 2nd.
So How Do You Create A Process?
A process starts with one thing, one simple thing that you repeat. Whether it’s an alarm, a ritual, a checklist. But it IS a procedure void of emotion or choice, that is what we are talking about.
I have created tens of tens of daily practices through the years. Some have stuck, some have gone by the wayside. The current ones I do now:
I set my alarm on the “9’s”, for instance: 7:19AM instead of 7:20AM. It is my way of giving myself 60 seconds in the morning to get my head right. I breathe. I relax. I force that incomprehensible dream posing as reality, to be squeezed out like water from a sponge. I say to myself, “I’m alive today. I have my 2 arms and my 2 legs and I get to attack this day. Let’s go.”
I use the app Outliner and record everyday:
One thing I learned
One thing I improved
One thing I enjoyed
I “Up Periscope” once a month; I look at all of my Outliner entries and on the first of every month I poke my head above water and check in with myself. How was business? How was my personal life? What did I do? What went well? What would I like to change? I write about a page or two in a google doc. It’s crazy how therapeutic and helpful this is
I write at least 500 words a day. Whether it’s copy for my website, an article, a blog post, working on a book, etc
I plan my day out while I eat breakfast. I write down what focused energy tasks I need to work on that day
When it comes to client calls, I revisit the previous week’s calls via my google docs notes 30 minutes before the call. After the call, I immediately email a summary of the call, things to work on and any added resources
*Reminder Of Note From Above
Processes are time consuming, they’re annoying, they force you to do things when quite frankly you just don’t want to do them. Sometimes I just want to eat my breakfast and sometimes I’m tired at night and I don’t want to figure out what I learned, what I improved and what I enjoyed, because maybe that day, the only thing I improved was increasing my ability to not kill someone.
And I am not HAL. I often slip or I’ll forget to do any number of these.
But the power of a process is that it’s a game plan, so even if you go off track for a few plays or a quarter, you have the blueprint to get back to what you created for yourself.
Because the alternative of no process is that you’ll wait for inspiration, you’ll complain about something and you’ll hope the timing will be right one day.
Well hoping is for suckers, and you’re not a sucker.