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  • Writer's pictureDillan Taylor

"Work hard" is bad advice (do this instead)




I burnt out last month.


Too many projects. Too many things to get done. Not enough time or energy to do them all.


I did a bunch of things poorly. So I changed the system.


I started going to bed at 10 pm so I could wake up at 6. That freed up two to four hours before my work day of coaching calls.


To do what?


I've been writing, recording, and editing for years. I also work with creators on a daily basis.


Aside from the nuanced struggles, I learned the hardest thing is just sitting down to do the work. Deep work.


Cal Newport defines deep work as "concentrated, high-quality cognitive activities demanding deep focus, creativity, and problem-solving."


Basically, hours of undistracted time where you only focus on one thing.


Every day, every week.


So I wanted to share my simple process for making deep work easy, clear, and fun. It helps me get more done in two hours than I used to do in two days.


 


Step 1: Remove 🪓


Get rid of all distractions.


Phone off and in another room. Notifications silenced. No Apple watch.


I use the BlockSite extension to block all the things I crave. Email, Instagram, YouTube...For me the most important to block is chess.com because I play it every day.


Finally—I put on noise-canceling headphones, play music on brain.fm, and shut everything else out. I also don't work near friends or family so I don't get pulled into conversation.



Step 2: Define 🎯


Get crystal clear on what work needs to be done.


"Most people think they lack motivation when they really lack clarity."

James Clear


When our work is unclear, it's easier to procrastinate. So I quickly answer 3 questions before diving into a blank page:

  1. What do I want to get done in this work session?

  2. What do I want the reader/viewer/user to get out of what I'm creating?

  3. How many minutes do I commit to this?



Step 3: Do 🎬


We removed all distractions. We know exactly what we're working on. Now we get to work!


I set a timer (I use the Countdown Timer Plus widget on Mac) for the number of minutes I committed to in Step 2.


I start working when the timer starts.


This whole process takes me 2-5 minutes. And it gives me hours of extra productivity time every time I work.


Hope it's useful for someone.


Now get back to work.

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