I read your post "The Million Dollar Question". It was very good. Thank you for sharing it. I can see myself in the friends you mentioned. I have these dreams of ways to increase my income. I have an internet side business that makes about $1500 a month. I know that there are many different ways I can scale it. In my mind I see the way, the things I need to do. But then I sit down to do those things and I freeze. I believe I am frozen by fear. I fear that if I do these things and they don't succeed, I have wasted my time. Or, I sit down and think of all the things I need to do to get to the endpoint and I think "that is a whole lot of work". So I don't do anything. I waste an hour reading HN and playing solitaire. It is really stupid.
Anyway, your post really made me think about it. I think I will write a plan of all the things I need to do to scale in one direction. Then I will break down the plan in small enough steps that can be accomplished in an hour or two. I'll write each step on a Post-It note. When I finish the step, I'll put it on the wall so I (and my wife) can see the progress. What do you think?
I think it's a good idea, and I empathize with where you're at. A few thoughts -
First, I think it can be helpful to start thinking in terms of expected value (EV) - I learned it from playing poker. If you play poker, you're often in a position where you make money on average by doing a good play, but you'll still lose a lot of the time. For instance, if you have an 80% chance of winning a hand and you get a big bet at you - of course you call. But 20% of the time you'll lose. Which sucks, but you've got to just shrug and not get upset because you did the right thing.
It's funny because people don't feel as bad when guaranteed time wasters waste their time as when they try something that might work and it doesn't work. But you've got to think in terms of EV. If you run a big multivariate split test, 25 out of the 30 elements you test might show no positive change. The other 5 might collectively double your conversion rate. The right answer isn't to say those 25 were a waste and the 5 were good, but rather that your tests have a 1/6th chance of working, so for every six of them you run on average, you get a good improvement. It's not that the winning tests/campaigns are good and the losers are bad, but rather that trying things that might work gets you there if you do enough of it.
Finally, this is a weird paradoxical thing I've noticed about motivation - if you have so many campaigns that even if you put a gigantic massive effort in for three days straight then you'll still have a gigantic massive amount of work to do, it can be very hard to get started. It feels like shoveling sand into the ocean. It shouldn't, but our minds are kind of a little broken when it comes to motivation and things like that. I'm totally a hypocrite giving this advice since I have way too many campaigns, but your best bet is probably to pare to 1-2 really crucial things, and focus on those nonstop until you get entire completion on that campaign. Then you can celebrate and completely put it out of your mind, maybe take a day off if you want, and then pick your next campaign. Whenever I've nailed a day or few days in a row down to, "Today I'm only working on X until it's complete" I've gotten massively more done and you can see where success is on the horizon. So splitting up your work into tangible concrete wins helps with motivation as well.
As with anything, it's a constant training and moving up. These elements here - thinking in EV, not feeling like attempts at success that don't work are a waste, and nailing down to one or two campaigns to get out of overload - they're just a few little elements that help do more. There's a lot of little things like that you train and habituate, and each one helps a little more with consistency and quality of putting in good time and good results.
In the comments of "Two Videos on How to Do Time Tracking," I got this question from Rohan -
Hi Seb, i too am doing this kind of life tracking but i am not able to do it consistently, a week or max 10 days n then i leave it for weeks...also i dont feel the same energy, for the task that i marked as 'To Do Tommorrow',as i felt when i wrote it! It happens esp on my off days.Its not that i m not disciplined or lack willpower but still.. i read tons of self help books but the motivation doesn't last long.. what shall i do Also what do u think is the real purpose of our life, i want to live a life like no one ever(just diff, simple and worth a life) but i feel like one among the herd! Same things! why am i born?
Okay, so there's two basic questions here.
1. I start off motivated, but then my motivation/program falls off over time. How do I overcome that?
2. What's the meaning of life?
One important thing: don't waste the mornings on the minutiae.
Seriously. Do the heavy thinking in the morning, when your willpower and your reserves are fresh and sufficient to push through heavy blocks.
Don't waste the morning surfing on the internet, don't waste it doing things that are light on thinking.
I used to, until I realized what I was doing. I'd get up, clean, work out, take care of emails, and then feel like I got a lot done. Then, later in the day, I'd laze off because I felt like I'd done enough that day from the morning, and would get absolutely zero meaningful work done.
Do the high-focus stuff first. When your willpower and motivation start flagging later in the day, cleaning and taking care of the mundane chores isn't as much of a drag as trying to do academic or creative work.