How to actually do things
I recently thought and read about three aspects of “actually doing things” that I want to connect quickly.
This is not meant to inspire you. All of this is obious. It’s probably only a reminder. But if you need a reminder, here it is: go and start that thing, commit to that idea, and keep going!
Start something 🚀
I just listened to the audio book “Poke the box” by Seth Godin. It is about starting. He says that most people don’t initiate things. But starting is necessary for innovation. Or even for anything getting done at all.
So if you’re having ideas, I believe they are quite worthless, unless you do something about them. Poking the box means taking action, understanding more by doing something. Instead of just thinking.
Thinking about stuff is not doing stuff. (That’s one of the post-it notes on the wall next to my desk, reminding me to take action.)
I like being proactive. Because it feels good to take action, to have an impact, look what happens, and learn. I also think a lot. But I’m not satisfied, if nothing ever gets real. I want to create something and then push it out of the door and watch how people react to it. (Do you even say that in English? Pushing something out of the door? I’m not sure, but I think you’ll understand and will hit “publish” anyways.)
It’s not only about getting started. If you start a new side project every day, you won’t get very far with any of those.
That’s why you need to commit. Make the decision to follow through, to focus some of your time and energy on that project.
In 2008, I started blogging. I am still doing that and it makes me happy to stick to it. Even if the last three years I was publishing less (and thinking/reading more). But still, it feels great to keep going.
For 2023, I decided to have a focus for each month of the year. This helps me to commit — because I know that the other interesting topics are coming up later; they have their own focus time. That way, it’s easier to commit.
For example, in January, I am am focusing my Product Management efforts on the topic of discovery (for example, I did the Design Sprint Masterclass and reading the book Continuous Discovery Habits by Teresa Torres). And in February, I’ll get more into analytics (e.g. doing a course about SQL). I might write a separate post about my focus plan for this year. Anyone interested?
For your “thing” to become successful (or at least being finished/shipped) you need to keep going. Consistency is key. If you want to learn an instrument or a new language, you need to practice consistently.
I love consistency. It’s not about over-ambitious attempts like blogging daily (even though I admire Seth Godin for doing exactly that) or running daily (don’t do that, it’s rarely going well).
But you need to find some kind of rhythm — a more or less regular habit. For me, daily streaks don’t work because they stress me out, and as soon as the streak is broken, I’m dissatisfied.
Many apps work with streaks and I could write a whole post about (or rather against?) them, but some apps started to go with a different approach. Two examples:
the stoic app allows you to hide the streak count. This takes the pressure away. Great app, by the way.
I use it in the morning to set intentions for my day and reflect in the evening.
the Commit app (for iOS), which I found via ProductHunt this week, works exactly under the assumption, that it’s about consistency, not streaks.
I really like the visual aspects and the little details in the UX, for example the way they use the long press on the “commit” button which feels like a special moment of importance than the usual behaviour. Try it out!
I set up two commitments in the app: daily reading (because I want to read 52 books this year) and doing sports daily (because I want to move my body every day — don’t worry, I’m not over training anything, going for a walk or doing a short yoga session counts as movement as well)
That’s it. Now let’s do great things! :)