Tag Archives: Work

Dream Big Long-Term, Work Small Short-Term

When it comes to setting goals and trying to figure out how to reach them, I’ve done my fair share of experimenting (you can see some of the strategies here: The ‘I HAVE To’ List).

But of all of the methods I’ve tried, and all of the ones I’ve failed at, there are a couple of things that have stood out as being helpful, across the board.



Dream Big Long-Term

In “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr (which I recommend buying and reading, it’s like a $10 book with about 20 pages in it), he discusses setting objectives, or goals, at a level that requires more than the average amount of effort to achieve. He follows this up by stating that even if a person, or team, only achieves a percentage of their goal, say 85%, that this is still a success.

The thought process behind this is that we too often limit our potential by trying to set reasonable goals… yet it is the unreasonable goals that actually drive innovation and progress. If you’ve ever heard anyone say, “shoot for the moon and you might land on a star”, this is what they are referring to, and it’s more than just a simple saying.

Setting big goals with an aggressive deadline will quickly put you into a different level of drive and this is exactly where you want to be, to achieve your goals.

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The thing that trips most people up though, is that they become very impatient to reach their bigger goals. Many people expect to hit the gym for a week or a month and then decide to give up, because they aren’t where they thought they should be. Peoples expectations on how quickly they should find success is terribly misguided and is often the cause of people who give up too soon.

This is what makes Dream Big Long-Term valuable. It tells us to continue to aim extremely high, so that we can continue to innovate and grow, but it also reminds us that we need to be running the race with the tortoise mindset and not expect to reach the finish line so quickly.

You can’t fast-forward to an achievement you haven’t earned.

Work Small Short-Term

While we need Big Dreams to set us on the right path, being a dreamer alone won’t get you where you want to go. And while our expectations should concern the Long-Term, if we’re not making enough happen consistently in the Short-Term, we’ll never get there.

That’s why Working Small Short-Term matters and it’s all about staying consistent, quickly. We can have a goal to win a race, but the only way to reach the finish line is to start taking steps. And the person or team that can show up every day, no matter the obstacles, and take another step, is the one who is going to reach the finish line.

Working Small Short-Term means looking for the Little Victories and trying to obtain as many of them as possible, as quickly as possible. The thing that tends to slow down a lot of people, when trying to reach their goal, is getting too caught up in trying to make the right decision.

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Maybe they over think what their workout routine should be, or they spend too much time trying to consider every option out there, and so they burn a bunch of time and energy on just thinking… but the thing is, no one can make the right decision always (unless of course you can predict the future).

Something that might look like a sure-fire, right decision now, might turn out to be a terrible choice 6 months later. You might think it’s a good idea to go to the grocery store, and then get hit by a car on the way. Suddenly that sure-fire choice just took a wrong turn. Life has a funny way of working like this, isn’t it ironic?

The point is, don’t get too caught up in trying to make the right, or even the best decision. Start taking actions and steps that you think might move you forward toward your goals ,and along the way you’ll figure out which choices work most of the time.


The Two Rare Skills You Need To Be Wildly Successful

There’s a lot of things out there to learn in life.

I remember being fresh out of high school and changing my major about 500 different times never really knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I felt like I had to find the right skillset or I wouldn’t be setup to be successful later in life. Unfortunately, the skillsets you need to actually be successful in life aren’t even taught in the class room.

For anyone out there reading this and trying to figure out how to be successful at what they’re doing, understand that it has nothing to do with what you’re actually doing. The two skills that you need to truly be successful can be applied to any job, any relationship, and any situation. They are the secrets to success.

Skill #1

photo cred: Moritz Mentges

The first skill is the most important one. It’s the one that actually creates action and makes things happen. Skill #1 is Work Ethic.

Work ethic means that if you put in the hours, you put in the work, you collect feedback, and you take time to learn, you will find success. Work ethic is the number one ingredient to making things happen.

Life is often times like a set of dominos except every so many dominos gets bigger and harder to fall over. Each time you knock down a domino, a couple of them fall, but then they get stuck on a domino that is even bigger than the others. That’s when you have to come along and work to make that next domino fall.

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And they don’t just keep falling for you. That’s a trick that a lot of people fall in to. They think they can just work hard for a few days, a few weeks, a few months, and then dominos will just keep falling, but that’s just not how it works. Your domino’s will stop falling and you will have to go put in more work to make the next one fall.

Skill #2

photo cred: Nathan Dumlao

The second skill goes right along with the first. It’s what keeps us honest and balanced and it’s life’s way of making sure you earn what you get. The second skill is Patience.

We live in such a, “give it to me now” society and we’re so used to instant gratification. We want to do one workout, one little project, one day of hard work, and then expect the lavish rewards. Life doesn’t reward you for one single great effort. Life rewards you for consistency. You can’t go to the gym once and get in shape, you have to do it every day, over-and-over and to get to that point, you have to be patient.

Lacking patience is what makes people quit too soon. The lack of patience has people hitting the gym for a week and then giving up because they don’t see any difference on the scale without realizing how close they really are to getting there.

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Try to understand that life is longer than you think. All of that, life is short talk that you see online is garbage. It’s just another marketing point to get you to spend money. “Life is short, take the vacation…” but the truth is, life is pretty fucking long. You literally spend years of it drinking and partying (aka college) and then come out the other side 10 years later with a job and a family.

Life is long, be patient with your goals and with yourself.

If you take these two skillsets and you mix them together you have everything that you need to be successful. Don’t expect to put in 1 day of hard work and reach your dreams. You haven’t earned it and it wouldn’t be fair to anyone else that had. Life rewards you with what you deserve. Work hard, be patient, and reach a point where life has no choice but to reward you.


Automate FTW

It’s been a little while since I’ve written a true productivity post and today feels like just the right time to make that happen.

One of the most effective ways to get ahead in anything that you do is to learn how to automate as much as possible. In the world of technology there are a million ways to automate things but there are also opportunities to automate smaller pieces of our daily lives.

When you automate things you allow yourself to get more things done in the same amount of time. This is the real trick and the secret win to automating. Think about a situation where you do a task. Let’s say you log on to your computer every morning and you open up a series of applications, your email, your chat client, maybe an application you need to do your work, some music, a website or two to check the weather, etc, etc…. and in total, it takes about 5 to 10 minutes for everything to load up and be ready.

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And let’s say you do this every day, Monday through Friday for the entire year, that’s roughly 252 days. If all of this takes roughly 10 minutes to do each day, that’s 252 days x 10 minutes which comes to… 2,520 minutes or better said, 42 hours.

Now think about the time you save if you take those 42 hours and instead of doing the same task everyday you use those 42 hours to automate the task and take a 10 minute task down to a couple of seconds. The return on investment here is astronomical! I mean you’ve reduced the effort of this task by 99.99%. You’ve basically eliminated this work from your life and now have gained that time back to invest elsewhere.

photo cred: Carlos Aranda

So you should be thinking bigger now. What about a task that you do multiple times a day? Something that you do maybe 3 to 10 times a day? Maybe it takes a minute each time, maybe it takes 5. What about a task that takes 30 minutes every other day?

One area that I’ve cut a ton of time and work out of my own life is in managing my finances. I would constantly have to sit down and pull up an excel spreadsheet and breakdown and workout how my budget looked. What was I spending, what was I saving, where it was all going. It took a couple of hours every month and then a few minutes every week to keep it updated.

After a while I got tired of the constant manual labor and started looking for a better solution. Then I found https://www.mint.com/ and I’ve never looked back. Mint automated so much of the manual labor I was doing and not only gave me back a few hours each month it actually made my budget more accurate and less prone to human errors.

And if you continue to identify these types of tasks, these little things that you repeat on a daily or weekly basis and then you find ways to automate some parts or all of them you will find that you’re able to get even more done with the same amount of time.

This is the big trick to getting ahead. You’ve taken what’s fixed, the number of hours in a day, and you’ve managed to get more done within that fixed number of hours. If you keep compounding this effort over-and-over your levels of productivity will climb higher and higher than before.

Automate, automate, automate for the win!

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Avoiding Distractions and Getting in the Zone

Your phone beeps… the kids ask for a snack… someone rings the door bell… the next work email comes in… someone messages you on Teams or Slack… the dog starts barking…

Working from home was supposed to be quiet and peaceful. Wtf happened?

Well for starters, we had unrealistic expectations. Let’s be honest, things were never all that quiet to begin with. We’ve just added in a ton more distractions and made it a lot more convenient for them to distract us. Right now… as I’m writing this… I can see the little light on my phone blinking because I have a message…

It’s already distracting me from writing this and all it is… all it is, is a little light that is flashing every 3 FREAKING SECONDS!!@#$!

So how do you actually get any real work done throughout the week? How do you make forward progress on things you want to accomplish without being pulled in every other direction? Read on!

There are literally millions of distractors in our life and they all play on different senses. For example, we have visual distractors like if we see someone walk past our window in the middle of the day, or an email notification popup on our computer, (or that little fucking light that keeps blinking on my phone… OMG!).

We have audible distractors, like when we hear the kids or if the dog starts barking. We have distractors that relate to our sense of touch or comfortableness. Is it too cold? Too hot?

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All of these different distractors are ways to throw you off your game and keep you from getting nothing done and feeling even more stressed than ever before. but… the best way to fight these off is to start building tricks that defeat each MAJOR distractor.

I say MAJOR because you’ll waste all day trying to remove every distraction ever. Don’t be a perfectionist. Focus on the ones that give you the biggest ROI. Here’s a list of my distractors and how I fight them off and get INTO THE ZONE.

  1. My Kids – love them to death, can’t work with them at home.
    • The trick – promise them if they are good, I will #maketime to play with them that night.
  2. My Phone – beeps and buzzes all day long.
    • The trick – Silent mode and flip it upside down so I can’t see it. (finally the blinking is gone…)
  3. Emails/Messages – emails are endless…
    • The trick – Set my status to DND, turn off Outlook, and flat out ignore people. Sorry bout ya!
  4. Uncomfortableness – sometimes it’s too cold or too hot.
    • The trick – A cheap 20 dollar floor heater and mini-fan. I use them as needed.
  5. Little Noises in the House – the kids playing, cars driving by, my wife coming home on lunch.
    • The trick – Headphones and music loud enough it’s all I can hear.
  6. Other tasks or things on my mind – Often times there’s just other thoughts and ideas that can creep into our heads
    • The trick – Set a timer and focus on staying in the zone until the timer goes off. Then once it goes off, indulge for a bit. Bonus trick – write things down and then put that list somewhere you can’t see it until after you’re timer goes off.

These are all examples of distractors in my life that I’ve had to come up with little tricks for to block them out. Working from home didn’t actually make anything less distracting but I have found ways to get a ton of work done just by simply getting into my zone.

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I aim to reach this zone where I’m at my peak performance a few times a day. I try to setup some blocks of time and know what I want to get done in that block. Then I go through and pull out all of my tricks. Headphones in, coffee filled up, heater on, DND set for my messages, email closed, phone upside down, each and every trick I’ve got, I put to use.

Then I get in my zone and go to work.

I would love to hear other people’s tricks on how they get into the zone! What kind of distractions do you face on a daily basis and what tricks work to help you get in the zone?