the mechanical method

Jay Clouse motivation, productivity

Over the last few weeks of self-employment, I’ve been learning a lot about motivation, self discipline, and personal productivity hacks.

One of the hardest things to do while being self-employed is find a balance of structure that satisfies the half of me that wants to scorn structure, and the half of me that realizes I’m not being as effective as I could be.

My most effective method of attacking this problem has been to minimize my “wasted” time. And that method is the mechanical method.

Last week, I knocked out The Magic of Thinking Big on audiobook. The book is pretty hilarious – clearly an old cassette tape that was recycled into an audiobook. It’s enthusiastic and cheesy, but it’s a quick four hours and the content is solid.

Aside: The Magic of Thinking Big reminds me a lot of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, which seems like common sense once you hear it, but is remarkably effective.

I had two major takeaways:

1. Motion controls emotion. If you want to feel better and think positively, force yourself to put on a BIG smile and say, “I feel great! Today is going to be a great day. I’m going to [accomplishment] today.” I know it sounds cheesy, but it actually works.

2. Use the mechanical method to accomplish tasks. If you wait for the “spirit” or “mood” to move you to action, you’ll keep waiting. If you feel hesitation to do a task, just force yourself to start moving. Put pen to paper, start typing, put on your running shoes and get going, etc.

Again, this sounds obvious but, if you want to accomplish something – you just have to do it. 

Let me dumb that down further.

I wanted to write this email. Whether I wait for motivation or not, I’m going to have to start clickity clacking away for the work to get done. Instead of waiting to have a full-fleshed idea in my mind, or for the ‘mood’ to strike, I kickstarted the process by beginning to write.

The same strategy has worked for getting out of bed. I know that to get moving with my day, I’ll have to get vertical. I also know I’m not going to feel more inclined to get up. I just stop thinking about it and do it.

So today, give it a shot. Whatever you’re putting off or just not feeling ready to start…just start.


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