From Slacker to Productivity Monster in 23 Days

From Slacker to Productivity Monster in 23 Days

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Tynan. You can keep track of his worldly travels at Life Nomadic.

I’d had a great year by almost any standard. I had a great love life, my income had become totally passive, I planned my around-the-world tour, I changed to a 99.9% clean vegan diet, and I began an intense workout program.

But as 2007 drew to a close, I had a startling realization.

Half of my yearly goals hadn’t been completed.

Some of them I could chalk up as changing my mind. My priorities had shifted. But one stuck out that had been on my list for the past few years:

“Become a Millionaire”

And again, I had failed. Why? I thought about it and it hit me like an oil tanker without brakes:

I wasn’t doing what it took to be a millionaire. In other words – I DIDN’T DESERVE IT! If you took the average person whose financial shoes I wanted to fill, and put him in my position, he would NOT be doing what I was doing.

Specifically, I wasn’t working very hard. When I needed to, I would crank up the productivity and get things done. But when I didn’t need to… I would go swimming with my friends.

This wasn’t a phase either. Since I can remember getting report cards, they’d inevitably be peppered with phrases like “reach his potential”
and “doesn’t apply himself”.

The future was even clearer than the past. If I kept it up, I wouldn’t be a millionaire in 2008. Or ever.

I’d say that I made a choice, but I didn’t – there was no choice to make. I HAD to become super productive, and I had to do it quickly.

So I identified my problems.

1. I let myself make excuses. If I worked really hard the prior day, then I could take it easy today. If other people didn’t work weekends, then I didn’t have to either. When I hit a roadblock where I was waiting for something, I’d cease productivity instead of working on something else.

2. I had no accountability. I work for myself. If I spend a week doing nothing but hanging out with friends, no one will ever notice. No one will apply pressure to me to work.

3. I wasn’t focused on maximum output. If I read a book, I’d consider it a day well spent. If I did *ONE* productive thing, like shipping a package, I’d consider that to be a productive day.

(I define output as creating systems or products or improving systems or products. Reading about things doesn’t count.)

Then, I decided that this year my goals would be measurable and they would be daily. They would be goals that, if followed, would almost certainly yield great success.

In other words, instead of success being the goal, I made the process that guarantees success the goal.

I made three rules for myself :

1. No excuses are EVER acceptable. No days off. If I did make an excuse, it would be posted publicly.

2. I would publicly rate my productivity on a scale from 0-3. My criteria would be how much output I produced during time that it was reasonable for me to produce.

For example, if I’m at home then I’m NOT watching TV. I’m working.
But… if I’m with my family at Christmas, I don’t take points off for that.

My goal is a 2.75 average for the week. I need a little time to relax, but not much. For comparison, my productivity beforehand was probably between .50 and .75.

3. I would list all of my output publicly every day. This keeps me honest. Once in a while I feel like I was super productive, but I realize that the sum of my output isn’t much, so I take points off.

Also, it helps because I’m constantly keeping a mental tally of my output. If I haven’t produced much by the afternoon, I know it’s time to kick things up a notch.

Three simple rules.

I’d tried more complex systems before like GTD. They’d work for a while but I’d fall off because they’re complicated and things would get “stuck” on my todo list. Not important enough to act on NOW, not unimportant enough to take off.

The results?

Well, I’ve been doing it for just under a month now. I took a few days off from publicly posting results because I moved to Panama (although in those days I got a ton done relating to the move).

I am now averaging around a 2.75 in productivity. What does that translate to?

In one day I took my software that I’m about to sell and I fixed every bug on my list, redesigned parts of the interface, and finished the sales page for it. Another day I wrote 21 articles to promote my book.

In short – I’m more productive than I’ve ever been.

Within a few days I stopped going to digg and reddit, and haven’t been back since. A stupid java game I’d play once in a while hasn’t been visited and never will be. I check the 2-3 blogs I read once every day or two instead of several times a day.

When I wake up I check my e-mail and immediately begin working. I take breaks for lunch, dinner, and crossfit, but that’s about it. If I can’t think of anything productive to do, or if I feel like I need a break, I read.

Reading doesn’t count towards productivity, but it doesn’t take away either. In the past week I’ve read 700 pages of fiction and about 500 pages of non fiction. Most importantly, the non fiction was stuff relating to my business, and I immediately made big changes after reading each one.

Here’s what’s most amazing:

I LOVE being productive. The thought of digging around through dumb sites online or watching “Weeds” because I was bored seems INSANE to me.

I work seven days a week at full productivity, and don’t get burnt out.
In fact, the more I get done the more I want to do more. I love knockout days with huge output lists.

Overboard? Maybe. But is it possible to get extreme results without going overboard? I’m betting that it’s not.

This is my personal system. I’d guess that it would be very effective for other people, but who knows? If you’re having trouble being productive, why not try it out for a month?

You can see my progress and keep track of your own at the BTYB-forums.

About Tynan:

Tynan is an eccentric, adventure seeking, entrepreneurial, vegan pickup artist who lives in Austin, Texas everywhere in the world! Tynan sold everything he had, filled a small backpack with the best gear and technology in the land, and set out to explore the world and find adventures. You can read about his great stories at Better Than Your Boyfriend, or follow his global adventures at Life Nomadic.

Posted by in Productivity | January 22, 2008 | Digg | | Stumble | Print | 7 comments