Timid people don’t make history.
Timid people back down when they’re faced with a challenge. Successful people are the bold ones, the ones who go all in and understand that the only two ways to truly be defeated are to quit or to die.
Xiang Yu knew this was true as early as 208 B.C. When his small army crossed the Yellow River to reinforce Julu (an area that’s now the city of Xingtai in Heibei province) he found his 50,000 men faced by a Qin army of 400,000 soldiers. Knowing that his men would have to fight their hardest to defeat an army that outnumbered them so badly he ordered them to save three days worth of food, destroy their kettles and cooking utensils and sink the boats they’d used to cross the river.
I have never in my life been an early riser.
In fact I was quite the opposite – a quintessential night owl who was more likely to be heading to bed when most others would be waking up. On top of that when you did finally wake me up I was generally grumpy, malicious and horrible to be around. For the first few hours I’d shuffle around filled with hate for everything until I woke up all the way.
That is until recently, when I finally made the transition to being able to wake up early and actually feel happy and energized.
Now I love waking up early. So what are the benefits to getting up early instead of sleeping in late?
I am a man who enjoys his to-do lists.
There’s just something about getting out a physical piece of paper and a pen and actually putting the things I need to accomplish in a day down in ink that feels really good. It makes it feel like I have something concrete to work from, something to keep me on track and focused. When I make a really solid to-do list I feel like there’s absolutely no way I won’t get all of that stuff done.
And by the end of the day, I haven’t done any of it.
So what’s going on? How do you make the jump from making a great to-do list to actually doing what’s on it?
Yesterday I introduced my latest challenge, attempting to change my productivity style from oscillating between frantic productive bursts and long depressive periods of idleness to a nice steady stream of consistent if small accomplishments.
As I explained in the other article, I’d like to go from being a hare (someone who sprints through tasks in bursts then goes through an extended cooldown period) to a tortoise (someone who works consistently on tasks for an extended period of time). To get used to working as a tortoise I’m challenging myself to go 330 consecutive days writing one article, learning 15 new words and mobilizing my ankle for 4 minutes every single day. So how am I going to pull it off?
That’s where Jerry Seinfeld comes in.
It’s been a while since I’ve put myself up for any kinds of challenges so I decided recently that I was way overdue for one. The problem was, I wasn’t sure what kind of challenge I should take.
On top of that, things have been kind of crazy lately and my normal writing schedule has been completely obliterated. As a result I have a huge backlog of articles I’ve been wanting to write and publish, but haven’t been able to actually sit down and take care of all of them. Additionally having recently wrecked one of my ankles in a bad landing while practicing vaults, I’ve been struggling to get my old mobility back now that it’s finished healing.
As a result I’ve decided to make this latest challenge all about productivity.
Specifically long term productivity.