What’s your personal standard for optimal productivity and maximum achievement? Think about it: Imagine that one day, week, or month where you got it all done—in an insane frenzy of focus and tireless action-taking. When you studied for finals week, started a new business, managed multiple projects at once, or finished your book; when the deadline was your only God and invaded your every breathing moment: Was there any halt to your productivity?
You can’t always use yourself to full capacity.
Yes, you can work for 15 hours straight with zero distractions and razor-sharp focus.
You can’t do it every day.
Yes, you can abuse your body in the gym, pushing your muscles to failure on new PR sets.
You can’t do it every day.
Yes, you can give legit 100% and actualize your utmost potential.
You just can’t do it every day.
Think about what enabled you to awaken your unrestrainable inner force:
- How many stressors and distractions did you have to deal with?
- How emotionally engrossed were you in going hard?
- How much caffeine did you have in your system?
- How many subsidiary duties did you neglect?
- How did it affect your social life?
- How pressing was the deadline?
Motivating emotions fluctuate, bodily processes self-regulate, friends don’t wait forever, deadlines aren’t always urgent, and sometimes you have to achieve secondary goals, cut your hair, or buy groceries. Most importantly, the distractions and stressors you face vary day by day. As you can’t take complete control over everything that might interfere with your daily resolutions:
Don’t let exceptional performance become your personal standard.
This is particularly important when you create a plan to manage your daily habits and priorities. If, during planning, you keep an experience of outstanding productivity in the back of your head, your time management endeavors won’t be sustainable. Be honest and realistic about what enabled your top performance; you’ll be less likely to program failure into your plan.
Moreover, don’t start scheduling by counting your waking hours in a day! The hours in a day aren’t created equal, nor are the days in a week. Don’t look at your plan as empty time slots to fill. Look instead at what you want to achieve and structure your day around goal accomplishments.
Start with a simple list of the bare essentials (including sleep, nutrition, meditation, and exercise; or just your highest priorities), preferably tied together in your morning routine, and slowly, over the course of weeks and months, add additional tasks to your plan. The plans I made for years always failed at some point because they were overly ambitious: They were too dense. They included too many new habits. And they were conceived using my experiences of maximum productivity as the standard.
Don’t make your (lifestyle, workout, productivity) plan an overambitious ideal. Rather, make it a standard of minimal performance, and use your ambition to create a habit of overachieving—without ever hastily adjusting your plan. Through successful consistency will you attain consistent success.