The Note

A not-to-well-kept secret of mine is that I consume a lot of what might be described as ‘self-help’ content. I enjoy thinking about how I work and trying to improve. It’s served me well over the years. My most recent promotion at work was as a result of my productivity skills more than any of my other qualifications. It’s worth working on this stuff.

I’ve been doing Shawn Blanc’s “The Elements of Focus” course over the last few days. In today’s session Shawn shared a trick he uses to help him write every day. This caught my eye in particular because I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of small habits incorporated into my day leading to me gaining skills etc. It’s hard to write a book, but it’s not hard to write for 15 minutes every day.

Shawn is a writer. He wants to be able to write every single day. To help him do this, he writes a note to himself at the end of each day with the topic of the following days writing habit on it. That way when he shows up the next day to write he doesn’t have to make a decision about what to write about. He just sits down, looks at the note, and gets started writing. The decision has already been made. This idea is pretty powerful.

Think about it. When was the last time you sort of wanted to go to the gym in the morning, but when you woke up you decided not to in the moment because it was cold outside? What’s happening here is that by leaving the decision point to the moment, you’re leaving it up to how you feel at the time rather than your rational mind. If you decide that you will go to the gym the n night before, the decision is already made. Even if it is cold and your tired, you already decided you’d do it so it’s a lot easier to get up and go.

I’m probably making it sound like I think it’s easy to stick to your decisions all the time. You could ‘decide’ to go to the gym and then change your mind in the morning. But what I’m getting at is that once you realise that the change of mind in the morning is based on your emotions rather than what you rationally wanted to do, it gets a little easier.

Shawn’s note is him making a decision to write the next day. He knows that his most important work is writing and with the note is able to stop emotions and stress from getting in the way.

I’d like to incorporate his idea into my day to help me write more.