Every time I put off a decision, hit the snooze button, skipped the gym, or didn’t complete my tasks because I didn’t feel like it, I always had an explanation for my continual procrastination.
I told myself I was tired. Or that it could wait until tomorrow. Who cares if you put off something, right?
Well, you should care.
Because you’re the one who’s responsible for your life. Too often, we look at productivity tips, apps or tools as the magic answer to our problems. But that also means we allow ourselves to blame external things for our lack of productivity.
How many minutes of undisturbed work do you get done on an average day?
10, 20, maybe 50 minutes? If you think that sounds low, just examine your life. Most of us can’t go undisturbed for more than 10 minutes.
We’re all so connected that it becomes impossible to find time to focus on yourself and your work. Some of us get hundreds of notifications and messages per day.
You find yourself answering a Whatsapp message here, an email there, talk to a friend, and then talk to a colleague on Slack. Most people’s days consist of answering to notifications
In a way, you’re held captive by others.
Over the past three years, I’ve read more than 200 non-fiction books. I’ve dived into Philosophy, Marketing, Productivity, Evolution, History, Biographies, and many other books you read to learn something.
Because that’s the main reason most of us read non-fiction, right? You read a book to get something out of it. And after reading a lot of similar books, you start noticing patterns.
One thing I’ve noticed is that non-fiction books of the past ten years are not boring to read. I think Malcolm Gladwell played a huge part in that development. His book The Tipping Point, published in 2000, also seems like a tipping point for non-fiction books.
Last week I turned 30. Unlike most people, I do like getting older. 10 years ago, I was a complete idiot.
Now, a decade later, I still know nothing, but I do feel more in control of my life. I thank that personal growth to an idea I stole from Socrates, the person who was once named the wisest man on earth by the Oracle of Delphi.
When Socrates heard that the oracle had made such a comment, he believed that the statement was wrong. Socrates said:
“I know one thing: that I know nothing.”
How can the smartest man on earth know nothing? I heard this paradoxical wisdom for the first time from my school teacher when I was 14 or 15. That humility made such an impact on me that I used Socrates’s quote as my learning strategy.
“Have a little patience.” That’s something many people have told me very often in the past. And it’s true, used to be very impatient.
Too often, we don’t realize how bad impatience is. I was recently rereading some parts of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, my favorite book on conquering fear. And this sentence grabbed my attention:
“The biggest pitfall as you make your way through life is impatience.”
I’ve struggled with patience for most of my life. I always want things to happen now. There are many examples of that.
Have you ever been let down by a colleague who you thought was a friend? Or how about getting drunk at the office party? If so, you’re not alone.
But here’s the thing: You can’t mix your professional and personal life. And that’s not a great thing to hear, right? We all desperately want to have a great time at work. And I get it.
You spend more time at work than any other place in your life, so it’s important to enjoy what you do. But doing what you love and workplace rules are two different things.
That took me a long time to understand. Granted, I’m a stubborn idiot who has to learn things the hard way. But one thing I’ve learned about the workplace is this: Things are not what they seem.