The Big Three - Energy, Diligence and Productivity
Energy, diligence, and productivity per unit lead to overall success.
It is clear that tremendously successful people have a ton of energy - think Elon Musk, Tim Ferriss Atul Gwande, and others. Many of these people are able to keep going and keep active long after normal people wilt.
There are also tremendously successful people who may not have the same range of energy but who are focused on getting the important things done first, they demonstrate tremendous diligence and attention to what is importan. Think Steven Covey and Cal Ripken Jr. .
And finally there are those who you may not have heard about as much but who when they do things are very productive in a short period of time. They do in 4 hours what most people take 12 to do, by not procrastinating and producing quality work the first time.
This triumvirate Energy, Diligence and Productivity drives the engine of success. Clearly you need dreams and goals to tell you where to go, but for feeding your engine these three skills are essential.
These are trainable to a limited extent. To a certain level, your energy is genetic and your ability to spot errors and produce clean work depends on how your brain is wired. However each of these three can be trained to a certain extent.
The most trainable is diligence - you can if you work with yourself - focus on doing what needs to be done and doing it now. Make a rule for yourself that you can rest or do your fun activities until you do your work. If you need to use pomodoro's to make sure you spend most of your time working on what needs to be done before you goof off. This takes practice, but with practice gets far easier and try and make it so not having your to-do list done instills a bit of stress. This is a bit harsh but will focus you on getting what needs to get done first and you will be surprised how little time your work can take.
For energy, while there is a big genetic element, you can definitely optimize yours. Three things to do to optimize your energy
- Get your sleep (make sure it is relaxing - meditation can help a lot)
- Exercise in the morning, many studies have shown that this can provide more energy for the entire day and also getting it done removes one of people's big willpower drains
- Control your diet - Eat 'clean' preferably low glycemic, have a regular eating schedule (you can fast or eat how you want, but plan it out so you know how your body reacts to it) and a clean diet reduces inflammation which can enhance tiredness.
For productivity, it is trainable but also requires three elements to work best -
- First is cleanliness - try and focus on producing few errors as possible from the start, if you can incorporate basic hygiene into your first draft, cleaning up will be much easier - this won't come naturally but with practice and reading the elements of style you can get pretty far.
- Second is good process - How you tackle your work can have a huge impact - for almost every sizeable task you should have the following elements
- Outline (make sure you plan and have clear goals)
- Execute (do what your plan says, don't dilly dally
- Review - even though it can be painful take a step back and review or get a friend to help
- Revise - almost everything will be better with review and revision, make it part of your process to start and you will produce better quality the first time through
- Third is value - it is not enough to simply produce clean work, through a defined process. What you produce must have value, take a step back and try and find out what the value you will be providing will be and make it as easy as possible to access - from Nick Winter - "Here’s the reality for almost every professional pursuit: shipping things that are unambiguously valuable generates significantly more interesting and high-return opportunities than exposing yourself to lots of different people and ideas."
Training these three skills will have multiplicative effect on your life. Make the investment.