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productivity

How to stay focused

I got this question from Tim:

“Staying focused and effective in business under extreme external pressure?”

When I asked what he meant by “extreme external pressure”, he said:

“[An] ex-wife who burned everything down. Ruined my closest business and personal relationships, and put me into complete financial ruin. With intent. So deep DEEP financial and personal stress has left me flailing and I am a month and a half into my first real opportunity for recovery. I feel a lack of clarity as to the best course of action to push my head above water for good. To focus on the work (which I am damn good at) instead of the stay alive struggle.”

Damn.

This one hits close to home for me.

My pain was dealing with feeling like I’d abandoned my oldest son when his mom and I got divorced coupled with this gnawing feeling inside of me that I was meant for more than pizza boy or telemarketer.

It’s hard to keep focused…

And, not let these things consume you.

But, here’s what I do.

I just keep saying, “Left”.

That might not make sense, at first, but let me tell you where it comes from. As you may know, I was in the Army for 10 years. And, during Basic Training, one of the final “events” before you graduate is a road march.

What they don’t tell you is it’s meant as a test of your mental toughness.

We’d done road marches before, but nothing like this.

We were up and marching before the sun came up and we marched long after the sun went back down. In full combat gear, 40-pound rucksack. At about hour 3, the straps from the rucksack started to feel like knives slicing into my shoulders.

By hour 5, I was arguing with myself about quitting…

And, getting recycled all the way back through the 9 weeks of Basic Training.

By hour 7, I didn’t even have the energy to do that.

At some point, my mind just stopped. All the false motivation, all the little “tricks” to get myself to keep moving, all the debating… it all just stopped. And, all that was left me and the next step I had to take.

Yes or no.

Yes or no.

Yes or no.

For hours.

And, what I did was I just kept saying “Left” every time my left foot hit the ground, just like we did when we marched in formation. “Left, left, left.” And, I just focused on that. That one next step.

And eventually, it ended. We rounded the corner to an open field.

There was a big bonfire waiting for us.

We took off all our gear.

And, celebrated because that was our last test.

And, that’s it. All you can do is focus on the very next step in front of you. People make the mistake of thinking focus is about will power. It’s not. It’s about motion. You take one step, the next one becomes more clear.

And another and another…

With each one, you become more focused.

Staying focused becomes more natural.

And before you know it, you’re sprinting.

So, you just gotta keep moving. Don’t think about everything that’s happened. None of that matters NOW. You have the hand you’ve been dealt, now you have to play it. Don’t think about the next 100 steps in front of you.

You don’t even know what most of those are.

And, they’ll change along the way.

What’s the best step you can take RIGHT NOW with the information you have.

And then, step.

NOW, what’s the next best step I can take?

And, the next… and, the next.

That’s how I live my life.

And that’s how I stay focused.

And, ignore everything else swirling around me.

And, it’s worked pretty damn well, so far.

So, there you go.

Take that for what it’s worth.

If you have a question, you’d like me to answer, just leave me a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer it.

And, of course, when it comes to web development, I’m here to help you take some of those steps with my training curriculum. HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL… it’s all in there. And, you can access it for nothing over on my free tutorial site here: https://johnsfreetuts.com

Later,

John

January 24, 2019

My success secret weapon

I gotta chuckle a bit.

Did you read that subject line like, “Really John?”

“Could you be more cliche, buddy?”

Heh. I’m just testing you.

Seeing who trusts me enough to open this email, anyway. 

Anyhoo…

I got something like that for you, today. Because man… today, I was feeling like a real turd. I’ve been talking all this “productivity” game.

And here I am today feeling unmotivated as hell.

Didn’t wanna send this email.

Feeling overwhelmed by my house.

And, not wanting to do s!@#.

At least, I WAS about an hour ago.

Now, I’m good to hook.

Typing away…

And, about to jump back into this house building.

What happened?

Simple.

I exercised.

I know. F!@#ing brilliant, right? “Oh John, you so smart. You like Bill Jobs. Or, Steve Gates. Me not worthy!”

I know, little buddy.

Take in my awesomeness!

But, for real.

It sounds simple, but it’s highly effective.

It’s a great way to knock all the cobwebs outta your head.

In fact, for me, it works every time I do it. Which is why I do it every time I’m feeling like a purple-haired milleni– er, I mean every time I’m feeling lazy.

Now, if you’re smart enough to look at that and go:

“Huh, lemme try that.”

Instead of blowing it off because it’s not some mind-blowing, super-genius insight. And, smart enough to know it’s not about how smart-sounding something is, but whether it actually works or not.

And, it’s about whether YOU actually do it or not.

Then, you’re welcome.

Hopefully, it works for you like it has me.

Also, YOU might get something out of my NO B.S. Guide to Get More Done course. It’s simple, yet highly effective, insights into how to handle procrastination, stress and overwhelm.

So you can keep motivated.

Productive.

And, focused on your long-term goals.

But, if you’re looking for “like totally rad life hacks, bro”… t’aint for you.

Anyhoo, you can get no-cost access to it on SkillShare.

All the details on that are here: https://skl.sh/2yIl8oP

Later,

John

December 13, 2018

The truth about becoming a web developer

I seriously feel like Scrooge, sometimes.

The grumpy old man, scoffing at the kids and their little “hacks” and gimmicks… imploring them not to get all wrapped up in every shiny new object that comes along… knowing full well they’re not gonna listen.

I especially feel it when it comes to LEARNING web development.

I get all these emails or YouTube comments or Facebook messages from aspiring web developers about staying motivated and getting through the hard parts of learning to code…

And, they’re always look for some “tip”…

Or “strategy”…

When, the truth is…

You can’t “hack” your way through that.

I think we’ve created such a “life hack” culture that the youngins seem to think there’s a “hack” for everything. Feeling uninspired. Life hack! Procrastinating a lot lately. Life hack! Arm got chopped off… life hack!

Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.

Sometimes, you just gotta sack up and grind through it.

And, what matters in those moments is commitment.

How committed are you?

Think about that for a second.

Really ask yourself:

“How committed am I?”

Would you do whatever it takes to make this happen?

If so, you’re in good shape. And, you just need to realize that sometimes, some things are going to suck. Every day isn’t going to be rainbows and butterflies. “Love what you do and never work a day in your life” is a trap, in many ways.

But, if you’re committed, it won’t matter.

If this is what you really want, you’ll keep going.

That said, procrastination and burnout are real things. And, while there’s a certain amount of “you just gotta gut it out”, there are things you can do to not get so overwhelmed and stressed out as you go through all this.

These are non-hacks.

The purple-haireds would call them “life hacks”…

To make them sound secksy.

But, really they’re just common sense.

Anyway, using this stuff I’ve created and released 5 new courses in the last 6 months… all while running a business, homeschooling my kids and building a house. I know there’s no way I could have done it without this approach.

Of course, I have no idea if it’ll work for you.

I’m not some productivity “guru”.

But, if you wanna learn what I do…

I teach it in my NO B.S. Guide to Get More Done course.

And, you can get no-cost access to it on SkillShare.

All the deets on that are here: https://skl.sh/2yIl8oP

Later,

J​​​​​​ohn

December 12, 2018

Productivity leeches

It’s funny.

This time of year always gets me a little reflective. I want you to think about this, though. Why? I mean… why are you here? Why did you sign up for this mailing list in the first place? Why are you trying to learn development?

Or freelancing?

Or whatever the reason you’re here is… why?

We’re all pushing toward something greater. For me, it’s “retiring at 40” and spending as much time with my kids before they leave the house. Teaching them everything I know. Giving them the childhood I didn’t have.

What’s yours?

Stop and think about it for a second.

What does a day in your ideal life look like?

What do you do when your first wake up?

What’s next?

And, next?

As you imagine it, it sounds great, right?

Well, here’s the reality…

No matter how close you actually get to living that life, there are always going to be annoying things you don’t want to do that you HAVE to do. I bet the vision you just had probably didn’t include getting the oil changed in your car.

Or, getting groceries.

Or, scraping ice off the sidewalk in the middle of winter.

Or, any number of things you find annoying…

But, still HAVE to be done.

And, that’s where most people get tripped up. They let those HAVE-TOs kill their motivation. They just hang over your head like vulture waiting to pounce, sapping all your energy and making you feel miserable.

No matter how much you get done…

No matter how good your life gets…

No matter how much you accomplish.

They’re like little leeches sucking all the happiness out of your life.

That’s what I found, anyway, as I was going through all the different productivity and “time management” trainings I put myself through. Trying to get my s!@# in order and stop procrastinating so hard.

I knew if I ever wanted to actually GET that life I imagined for myself…

I had to handle this once and for all.

And, I’d just come off an epic failure CAUSED by procrastination.

And, none of these systems really addressed it.

As I did them, I always just felt like I had this cloud hanging over my head. Increasing my stress, making me anxious and killing my motivation no matter how many boxes I checked off my to-do list.

Anyway, that’s one of the things about the “NO B.S.” system I finally discovered.

It tackles these little leeches head on.

No kitty-footing around them.

In fact, they become an essential part of the system.

They’re what make it work.

And, help INCREASE your motivation.

When done right.

Building my house the last six months, while running my business and homeschooling my kids, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this “hack” (that’s not really a hack at all, but just common sense).

It’s proven its effectiveness to ME 100 times over.

In any case, I have no idea if it will work for you. I’m not some rocket-surgeon who dissected the brain and figured out which pound of flesh to press on. But, I DO know that if YOU are actually going to get that life you imagined earlier…

Being productive…

Staying motivated CONSISTENTLY…

And, taking “massive action” will be required.

And, IMNSHO, you can only do THAT after you’ve slayed these productivity leeches.

In any case, believe and do what you want.

If you want to learn the system I discovered, I teach it to you in my NO B.S. Guide to Get More Done course over on the SkillShares. And, you can get no-cost access to it. All the deets on that are here: https://skl.sh/2yIl8oP

Later,

John

P.S. In case you’re wondering here’s a recent review of the course:

“Brilliant info. Highly recommended!!!” — Billy Peacock

Get started here: https://skl.sh/2yIl8oP

December 11, 2018

When you feel like procrastinating

Awhile back, I had a guy ask me:

“ok jump in where I am wrong…. YOU ARE: a teacher, a developer, a business owner, a husband, a father, a dog owner, a homebuilder??? Do you have a personal assistant walking next to you, feeding you to save time?”

Now, I think the typical response is..

“Aw gee shucks. I just do my best!”

But, the truth is…

For me, that’s not really the case. A few years back, I made a conscious decision to push myself as far as I could productivity-wise. I’d just come off a big project where I’d failed to deliver several key parts of the end product…

And, the client was taking a hit because of it.

And, there was nothing to say.

It was 100% my fault.

And, it was because I’d let procrastination win.

So, I decided I was never going to let that happen again. That’s about the time I started doing these daily emails. At that time, I had one course… now I have over a dozen. And yes, the last 6 months, I’ve been building a house.

None of it is an accident.

It was all done consciously.

And yes, I sleep a healthy 8-9 hours a night.

Spend lots of time with my wife and kids.

Aaaaand, walk my (supposed be my wife’s, btw) dog.

How?

Well, when I made that decision, I decided to put myself through a productivity “boot camp” of sorts. I tried about every productivity “system” and “trick” you’ve probably heard of. 

And, I was just ruthless about it working FOR me or not.

And, what I found is that I ended up spending more time DOING the productivity “system” — whatever it was — than I did actually BEING productive. Which was a NO-GO for me, Captain.

So, through lots of trial and error…

I developed my own system.

It’s a simple 10-minute “routine” I do every morning.

To get me focused…

And, clear on what needs done that day.

And, motivated to actually DO it.

Now, I won’t say that this will work for everyone. I honestly have no idea. It’s not some fancy “scientific formula” based on the “neuroscience” of rocket surgery. It’s just this thing I do that works really well for me.

Anyway, if you wanna give it a try and see if it works for you…

I teach it to you in my NO B.S. Guide to Get More Done course.

You can take that course for nothing over on SkillShare.

Deets on that are here: https://skl.sh/2yIl8oP

Later,

John

December 10, 2018