Is it Better to Dream or Take Tiny Amounts of Action?

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I signed up for Ramit Sethi’s Success Triggers course a few weeks ago. So far it’s been awesome!

One thing he said that hit me really hard is about what he calls “extreme reach barriers.” The concept is that we often look at the extremes of a situation, rather than all of the small in-between steps.

For example, let’s say I want to build up this blog. On one hand, it’s tempting to say “I need to spend at least 20 hours a week on this blog! Otherwise it’s never going to grow.”

If someone asked me why I don’t spend just 3-4 hours a week on it, I’d look at them like they’re crazy. “3 to 4 hours a week? I would get almost zero results, so that just doesn’t make sense. Why bother?”

That’s a silly way of looking at things.

There are a few reasons for that:

  • Going from zero to 20 hours a week would likely lead to a lot of waste. What the heck would I spend all that time doing? When you’re first getting started, there’s a huge learning curve.
  • It’s difficult to carve out 20 hours a week from your schedule. But 3-4 hours a week? That’s much more manageable.
  • If I do the right things, 3-4 hours a week can definitely lead to some great progress. That’s an epic blog post, or a lot of new relationships with other influencers, or several short posts.
  • Over time, those 3-4 hours a week add up!
  • As the blog gets bigger and I have more traffic coming in, I’ll be encouraged by my successes to put my work into it. Then I may scale it up to 20 hours a week eventually.

I’ve spent SO much time focused on that extreme barrier mindset. This blog is just one example, and look what happened? I didn’t do anything this whole semester! I had plenty of opportunities to hop on for a short blog post, but I didn’t do it.

My new plan going forward is to theme my days better. So I’m only going to work on this blog one day a week. Some days that may be for 15 minutes, but most days I’m going to plan for a few hours.

This is similar to batching. By batching everything for this blog at once, I’ll be much more focused and get more done. Then I can focus on other things for the rest of the week.

I should’ve started doing this a long time ago. John Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire does all of his interviews for the week on one day! Then he spends the rest of the week on administrative and marketing tasks. I’ve heard of other entrepreneurs who theme their days as well, including Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey.

This makes much more sense then flitting from task to task. Taking 3 days to work on school for an hour, a freelance project for an hour and a writing task for an hour each day is much less productive than doing each type of task for 3 hours straight over the course of 3 days. Batching helps you get focused, which helps you do better work.

And since we’re all trying to do better work, let’s try batching our days. If it works for Elon Musk, there’s gotta be something going for it.

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