Recently, I made an observation- striking off all your to-dos has become a rare occurrence. And it’s become non-existent since I started going to the office.
Sending that follow up email? To-do added
Following up with a podcast guest? To-do added
Quarterly discussion on marketing plan? Added.
And on top of this, I have my to-dos from yesterday. And from all the previous days. To overcome the To-do fatigue and the constant dissatisfaction associated with it, I started following these 3 rules
Freezing 24 hours prior– I freeze all my to-dos 24 hours prior. If you tell me something today, that goes on tomorrow or day after tomorrow's to-do.
Blocking time for ad-hoc stuff– I've made peace that there will be folks who will walk up with urgent/ASAP stuff. I block for 30-45 minutes.
Schedule time– I group similar kinds of things, and get them checked off. For example- research, presentation, etc come in the same time block. All email related stuff goes in one time block. You get the drill.
I recently wrote about Willpower. On why it is scarce and how we should try to spend it on things that matter. If that's the case, can we do anything we need with willpower?
In my personal opinion- it's a NO. The key to doing anything consistently or rather doing anything boils down to a strong WHY. On reflection, I have never continued doing something where I didn't have a strong WHY (good or bad).
I didn't do strength training until I had a stiff back.
I didn't quit some bad habits until I had a health scare.
I didn't start writing until I realised how cluttered my thinking was.
At times when I have continued doing things out of sheer willpower, I have been either been burnt out or just lost steam along the way. So I started asking WHY before taking up anything new.
I'm okay to give up on projects if the WHY is not relevant to me anymore.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself when things go badly and don’t be so proud of yourself when they go well.”
Simple yet the most difficult advice to follow!
The time your trades gave you a 25% profits in an hour. The time your hire went on to change the course of the company. The time you met your partner of dreams. Or the wild bet you made and how it worked out beautifully.
None of these make you a ‘great’ decision maker.
Annie Duke (Author of Thinking In Bets) gives the example of having a King-high Straight Flush, one of the strongest hands in Texas hold’em, and yet lose all your money. The odds are 1.5 million to 1. But you could lose it all!
That’s why it’s important to distill the quality of decisions and the quality of the outcome. All we can control is
And the repeatability of the processes.
Process and practice helps us improve the quality of your decisions and be cognisant that the outcome would not go our way!
Like most things in life, willpower is available in limited supply. I didn’t realise this until recently.
Picking a salad instead of a cookie? Willpower comes into play. Choosing to rest over ‘pushing’ yourself? Willpower comes into play. Choosing the right burger at a restaurant? Willpower comes into play.
For starters, willpower isn’t available on-demand. You can’t ‘summon’ willpower to serve you when you need it. With every decision you take, you’re depleting some part of your reserve.
And the faster we use it, the faster our willpower battery comes down. That’s why most of us lack the energy to do things as the evening progresses. You had already made so many decisions.
Reserve your willpower for things that matter. And it’s a choice we all have to make everyday.
What are the other approaches we haven’t explored?
If the goal is to explore all approaches or options, great.
But if the goal is to get started, and get the job done- it’s important to get started with things you currently know. Leave room for improvement. Be cognisant that you will optimise as you discover new things.
To get things done, it’s better to ignore the unavailable options.