Many would consider me an incredibly productive person: I hold a regular 9-5, participate in life until 8, and work on coding/personal projects from 8-midnight. I don’t sit down at my desk to work on my personal projects every night because I feel incredibly motivated. I do it mostly out of habit.
Although, having motivation can definitely help with trying to be productive, but feeling motivated does little in pushing you to complete your tasks.
Feelings are fleeting and unreliable. Being reliant upon motivation is a seductive pitfall.
When you feel motivated, those feelings don’t directly translate into action. Motivation generates a what-would-Bill-Gates-do and an image of yourself accomplishing the impossible.
It’s a broken mentality.
You associate the feeling of being motivated to getting things done all the while time comes to walking the walk, that other feeling called laziness convinces you to put your feet up rather than put your foot down. Guilt ridden, you wish upon a star to find that spark and beat yourself up for being lazy. And, that list of tasks keeps getting longer.
I do enjoy my daily routine and I have a clear purpose for sticking to it every day — to become a better developer, but I don’t depend on those feelings to kick me into gear. I believe a productive person is nothing more than a person with very good habits. Feelings wash over you the way the tide greets the sand: it comes and goes, but your habits are within your control.
Feeling motivated gives you a purpose. Having good habits give you the ability to take action.
So, here’s a plan of action:
Learn not to associate feelings to task completion except in recalling the satisfaction of crossing them off your list with a big, fat, black marker.
Set aside a couple hours every day to work on the tasks on your list and shut out all distractions. No, organizing your lint by size does not belong here.
Keep it simple: don’t take on difficult tasks when starting out. Attempting to tackle big items on your to-do list will most likely deter you from actually finishing. Take out the trash, really, do it.
Eventually, crossing tasks off your list will become automatic — this is what you want: habitual productivity. Once you’ve established this habit you’ll get that addict’s itch to get back to your routine. And, if they try to make you go to rehab, just say no, no, no.
*Note: I originally posted this on my blog: Habitual productivity.
Co-author/Editor: Samantha Huynh