I’m one of the most productive people I know, and I never procrastinate on what is important to me.
How do I do it? Let me try to share what I think my secrets are:
I. What is productivity?
To be productive means to produce. Produce a lot. To be a maker, not a consumer. To make more than you take.
To be productive, means to make a lot of product. Product being a photo, blog post, a physical item you sell, an idea, a cultural concept, or a piece of poetry, a drawing, a dance, or a new verse.
II. Why be productive?
We are always brainwashed by society to be more productive. But why seek to be more productive?
For me, to be human is to be productive. To produce, create, and make things (physical or digital) is what empowers yourself and humanity.
Therefore, to be happier, be more productive.
III. What productivity isn’t.
Productivity isn’t answering a bunch of emails efficiently, nor is it organizing your desk, nor is it managing your finances, nor is it making ten year plans, nor is it making a business plan, nor is it making a social media strategy, nor is it uploading stuff to Instagram or Facebook, nor is it making more money.
Productivity is about making more art. Art can be anything and is everything.
Art is an expression of your creative soul.
For me, I feel productive when I make a lot of poems, letters, blog posts, videos, write books, make photos, or make graphic illustrations. I make art with my fingers, my voice, and my mind.
The more art you make, the more fulfilled you will feel.
IV. Personal strategies
My tips and strategies won’t work for you. But they work for me.
1. Drink lots of espresso:
Espresso has less caffeine than a cup of drip coffee. And you can space them out over the day. I drink my espresso, no cream or sugar, and now I only drink water, black coffee, chamomile tea, and that’s it. No more alcohol for me, no beer, no wine, no hard liquor.
No coffee, no productivity.
My theory is this: when I drink coffee, my blood boils. I have an adrenaline response. I have the fight or flight feeling. This stimulates a fear response in my body. I channel that fear response to be productive, to write, and do creative work.
Homework assignment: to be more productive, drink more black coffee (all killer, no filler), and drink less alcohol, fruit juices, or anything with sugar.
2. No breakfast or lunch
What I love about my philosophy is that it is free.
I don’t eat breakfast or lunch anymore. Why? I am less productive.
After I eat breakfast or lunch, I feel lethargic. I get tired. I wanna take a nap. Like a lion, after she gets a big kill. A lion goes to sleep for 3 hours.
I want to be like a wild animal. Fierce, always a little hungry, and sharp. Focused.
Animals in captivity are fed three square meals a day. They become lazy, and fat.
Hawks are constantly hungry, and are given a little bit of red meat to whet their appetite, to give them a taste of blood. That helps motivate them to hunt.
Think about it: does a lion eat a granola bar before she hunts a gazelle? No. A lion is motivated by hunger to hunt. If a lion wasn’t hungry, a lion wouldn’t have motivation to hunt.
Humans (according to Charles Darwin) share a common ancestor with lions, and other mammals. Therefore, we should biologically and metabolically work the same.
We don’t hunt for our food anymore, but our hunting is now running, lifting heavy barbells in the gym, writing things on the computer, or creating art.
I am most productive when I am hungry. Because I am hungry, I am motivated to work hard, to get my reward at the end of the day– tons of dark meat chicken, an egg snack of 5-6 whole eggs (yes with the yolk), tons of Kimchi, and lovely three hour conversations with friends and family.
Homework assignment: stop eating breakfast or lunch, and just start eating one meal a day (huge dinner). Drink lots of black coffee, tea, or water (no sugar) to ward off hunger, and go on brisk walks when you’re hungry. Have your first meal of the day at around 3-6pm.
3. I will die tonight.
Death is the best motivator.
In the fantastic movie “In Time” with Justin Timberlake, there is a dystopia future where the rich have unlimited time, and the poor have limited time.
The rich with thousands of years of life are bored. Lethargic. Lacking meaning in life. In the beginning scene, one guy commit suicide, because he’s just bored of living so long. To live forever is hell.
For me, I know I must die, and I will die — that is what motivates me. I might die today in a car crash. I treat my life like my smartphone battery, I only have 5% charge left— what will I waste my battery on, and what will I not waste my battery/life on?
For me, I don’t give a fuck about my car, my clothes, my appearance, how many 1’s and 0’s or commas I got in my bank account. I only care about being productive, hustling, motivating and uplifting others.
Homework assignment: Uninstall Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and email from your phone for a month. See whether you die or not. And treat your life like your iPhone — you are at 5% charge; what would you not do on your phone, and life?
V. I’m never satisfied, can’t knock my hustle.
I’m like Jay-Z; never satisfied.
To be frank, I am never satisfied with my goods, tools, clothes, cars, material possessions. I lied earlier.
I want a Lamborghini, I want the coolest NIKE gear, I want the best Apple products. I want the best tools and gear— because sometimes I doubt myself; I think that by having better tools, I will be able to realize more of my potential.
But to be frank, buying shit is a lazy way to be innovative and to work hard.
It is easier to order something on Amazon prime, rather than actually hustling and working hard.
For example, it is easier to signup for a gym membership, than to just get on the floor and cranking out 20 pushups.
It is easier to buy a new camera, than to actually seek to buy books (not gear), and to learn composition, and learning how to make better photos.
It is easier to buy a new iPhone, rather than figuring out how to invest that $700 to build your own company.
Aint nobody immune. Not me, or you. If you live in a capitalist world (our world), we are constantly having our eyeballs, and ears manipulated by advertisements — telling us that we’re not good enough, and if we just bought a new Rolex, Louis Vuitton purse, BMW, Leica, whatever— we would become better versions of ourselves.
Fuck that. Let us be like the ancient Spartans— watch the movie 300. King Leonidas, with his bare chest, red tunic, bronze helmet, brown leather sandals, and his bulging chest is more heroic than the old fat guy in the cherry-red BMW M3.
This is why I admire physical perfection more than material possessions, or money. Anyone and everyone can lose body fat, and build muscle — just by pure work, will, and hustle. Not everyone can become rich.
So for me, I am never satisfied. I guess that is a good thing. My blog posts are never good enough— so each new blog post I do (I’ve written 2,700+ blog posts) — I try to do it like it were my first and last blog post. Even as I write this, perhaps it is the last time I can blog on the topic of productivity, hustling, and overcoming procrastination.
Homework assignment: What pisses you off? Fix that. I am pissed off by shitty products, so I endeavor to make good products. I am pissed off by paywalls on the internet— so I keep everything on this blog open and free. I am pissed off by all these fakers online, who don’t talk online like they do in real life. So I endeavor to be the same 1 person — no two-face Harvey Dent from BATMAN for me.
VI. How to overcome procrastination
I always procrastinate on stuff that isn’t important to me. I procrastinate on my taxes (always do it three days before it is due), I procrastinate on emails (got unanswered 700+ emails in my inbox), I procrastinate on anything that doesn’t matter to me if I died tonight.
But I never procrastinate on what is important to me— spending time with my friends and loved ones, hustling and writing these things, making meaningful photos, etc.
I think we should use procrastination in a positive way.
The rule is simple:
Do more of what you like doing, do less of what you don’t like doing.
Often the work we do while we procrastinate on a bigger task is our passion.
For example, when I procrastinate on doing my taxes, I write blog posts.
Steve Jobs knew he had cancer, and would die soon. He hustled fucking hard, and never wasted a day. He procrastinated and ignored his health, his finances, and other things that weren’t important to him. In the few years of his life (after his cancer treatment), he was focused like a laser.
In regards to focus, innovation, and productivity, he said:
Innovation is saying no to 1,000 good ideas. Choosing the 1-3 best ideas.
In life, we have many good options. But very few truly meaningful, important, and purposeful options.
So even now, I choose to make less money, so I can focus more on productive writing, blogging, and making more art— to empower you, dear friend.
Homework assignment: Say no to everything you don’t wanna do for a week. See whether you lose friends, family members— and whether you are more productive with your art.
VII. Publish in-progress and shitty stuff.
I’ve probably only wrote 1-3 (what I consider very good) blog posts in the last 6 years (2011-2017). Most of my blog posts are pretty shitty.
Whatever. I type like I talk. Casual, unpretentious, and real.
I feel that writing aint about eloquence. It is about conveying a message, a meaning, a concept, an idea— something that will change the heart, mind, or soul of the reader. To stir their emotional heart strings, and make their mind shift into a different gear.
My rule is I always publish everything. Everything in-progress, shitty, whatever.
Publishing conquers fear.
Nothing you make will ever be productive. Pablo Picasso created 1-2 art works a day, until the day he died. I write about 1-5 blog posts a day, and make 1-5 videos a day.
I try to make my art 80% ‘good enough’ then I hit publish.
My rule is this:
If this blog post, video, photo, article, letter, concept, idea, or art piece can at least help 1 other human being— it is worth publishing.
So a mantra to live by:
When in doubt, hit publish.
Or a NIKE analogy:
Just publish it.
For example, I started a Photography Marketing 101 guide. It ain’t done. But I published the in-progress — because I feel some of the ideas and concepts can be useful.
And philosophically speaking— everything is a work in progress. A redwood tree is always a ‘work in progress.’ It will never stop growing. And perhaps, never die.
Make more art, and just publish it.
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