Another productivity tip – leaving enough in the tank for the next day


Yesterday, I gave you the author Cory Doctorow’s tip about finding 20 uninterrupted minutes each and every day, which is enough for him to write a novel (typically 100,000 words) a year. I asked you what do you think you could accomplish if you dedicated 20 minutes each day to a goal or dream.

Now Cory was talking about pursuing intellectual tasks, but for some people those 20 minutes might be used to get back in shape. Speaking of athletic pursuits: Cory offered another tip that is very similar to the advice given by the elite Ironman athlete Gordo Byrn. Both of their tips centers around each day ‘leaving a bit in the tank for the next day’.

(Gordo has a great personal story. He was in the high pressure job of financial trading in Hong Kong and overweight and out of shape. After building up a bit of fitness he enjoyed it so much he gave up his former high profile life to dedicate the next 10 or so year to becoming a high level ironman athlete, which he accomplished. If you want a triathlon coach check out his website endurance corner).


Leave yourself a rough edge

When you hit your daily word-goal, stop. Stop even if you’re in the middle of a sentence. Especially if you’re in the middle of a sentence. That way, when you sit down at the keyboard the next day, your first five or ten words are already ordained, so that you get a little push before you begin your work. Knitters leave a bit of yarn sticking out of the day’s knitting so they know where to pick up the next day — they call it the “hint.” Potters leave a rough edge on the wet clay before they wrap it in plastic for the night — it’s hard to build on a smooth edge.


Three things to remember:

1 – Make sure you can hit tomorrow’s training. If you need to back off today, to train tomorrow then do it.

2 – Always leave yourself room to lift your effort in the second half (intervals, sets, workouts, weeks, months, seasons, races). Your best results will come from building a habit of always being strong at the end.

3 – Endurance training is about building our capacity to absorb WORK, not endure pain.

Now you can see how these two outstanding people in their chosen field (though they actually are both quite diverse in their individual pursuits), one concentraing on the intellecual pursuit of writing and the other on the high level endurance event of ironman, are both offering the same advice – leave enough in the tank so you can repeat the task the next day, and the next day, and so on. It speaks to consistency.

Try these two simple but effective tips – find 20 minutes each and every day for your pursuit and make sure you leave enough in the tank to accomplish again the next day.