Most people have a low bar

I don’t mean they’re impressed easily, but they don’t expect much. So it’s easy to skate by, unnoticed. It’s easy to stay put and lay low.

On the other hand, if you try, you might fail. Then they’ll surely notice you. So why risk it?

If you’re worried about meeting expectations, it will take no more effort than tying your shoes (too easy). If you’re worried about pleasing others, you never will (impossible). But if you just worry about being your best self, the game changes. Then it’s all on you. No excuses.

Everyone is scared of her

I was too. I’d never met her, but I’d heard stories. She’s demanding, hard-noised, and sees right through you.

Then I met her. She’s just another person who cares about doing good work. She cares enough to push those she leads to exceed self-imposed limitations, to hold a standard, and to not deceive themselves.

People see her high standards and assume she’s out to get them—to show them they’re beneath her—but she’s just trying to pull them up.

I woke up discouraged and intent on quitting

But sucked it up and reluctantly got moving. Once in motion, it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. I stopped thinking about the high bar and accepted the best result I could get in the short amount of time I had.

Then I stumbled on a new idea.

It’s natural to wait for ideas to come, but that’s not how it really works. As Robert Rodriquez puts it:

Don’t wait to be inspired to do the action. You have to do the action first and then you’ll be inspired.

I’m not good enough

When you see amazing work it’s easy to get discouraged. That’s the bar? I’m so far below that. I’ll never be able to do work that good. You just sit in awe and stop working.

You need to study other work if you want to keep learning and growing. But you must have clear separation between learning and doing. The worst mistake you can make is to measure your work against others. When you’re working, the only thing to focus on is doing the best work you can do.

Be demanding. Be critical. But don’t be unreasonable. Otherwise you won’t do anything at all.

Late for good reason

I stopped working to play with Olivia and didn’t get something done on time.

I remember hesitating when I decided to let it go, but I’m glad I didn’t make the wrong choice. In a few days, weeks, or certainly months I’ll have completely forgotten about whatever unimportant thing I was working on. And no one can ever take that time back from me and my Oskie.

Keep a list of open projects

To be productive and stay sane it’s important to get your to-do list out of your head. But once the list gets long the system falls apart. If my list gets longer than 15-20 items I get stuck trying to prioritize when I should be working.

One solution is to group tasks by logical projects. This simplifies your workflow and keeps you in control of the big picture.

I use ToDoist for managing my list because the project organization is so simple. See the screenshot below mocked up with some fake projects:

  • Organize projects and sub-projects in the tree on the left (easy drag and drop to move and nest within other projects)
  • Add tasks to the inbox or straight into Projects (also easy to drag and drop)
  • The comments feature isn’t show here (the dialog box icon), but I use this to attach files and make notes to myself
  • There’s also powerful sharing features if you work with a team (I just use it solo)

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