It doesn’t matter how productive you are, or how well you manage small chunks of time… some days you just have to shut yourself in a room to get lots of work done.
So many people dread being alone, but I’d rather wake up early in the morning, power through my work, and have the rest of the day free.
As I’m typing this, I am in the middle of a 48 hour train ride halfway across the country. When I told people I was going to be on a train for two days, everyone thought I was crazy. But think about it, being bored for two days is the perfect way to get things done, while you’re relaxing. It beats being crammed onto a plane trying to make the hours pass by faster.
When I was younger, I went to Boy Scout camp every summer for one week. We earned lots of merit badges for things like Orienteering, Pioneering, Hiking, and so on… we had six classes every day and had to pass a bunch of tests to finish the badge.
The “toughest” merit badge out there was Environmental Science. It involved learning a bunch of stuff, sitting out in the woods for hours on end “observing” things, and then we used those notes to type up a LONG essay… it had a minimum word count. It turns out the only thing that made people label it as the hardest merit badge was the essay you had to write at the end. At the end of the week, we had a day doing nothing before we had to go back, and I’d decided to “wait” until I got home to write the essay.
A buddy of mine said, “Don’t wait until you get home to write the essay. When you get home you’ll find other things to do instead of writing a stupid essay. Where you are right now, there’s nothing better to do than write a stupid essay.”
He was right, and if he hadn’t said that to me, I wouldn’t be on this train now. And guess what… the other guy in the scout troop who took Environmental Science with me, waited until going home to write the essay, and he never finished it. He never earned the merit badge, despite doing 80% of the work. He just couldn’t follow through.
If you have a project that’s dogging you, or you need to get one project out of the way to make room for another, shut yourself in a room and power through it. Because if you “wait” … you’ll find something better to do, guaranteed. Go on a long train ride. Work nights if you have kids. Just do that one thing before you work on anything else.