Finding What Works for You

I have a confession to make to each of you. I have a Master’s degree in Philosophy. The odds are good this post will be a little philosophical.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve learned a fair amount about myself over the years. I’ve learned that large crowds wear me out. I’ve learned that dairy products usually disagree with me. I’ve learned that I have an instinctive knack for talking to salespeople.

I’ve also learned that success is a mental game.

Last week, I struggled to get my work done. That wasn’t a good thing. I have four major projects due before the end of the year, most of which are a stretch for me, and I was wasting time, surfing the Web, struggling to focus, and not being as productive as I should be.

Has that ever happened to you? I’ve seen it in others, over the years. I even managed a woman who found excuse after excuse to do everything except the project that had to be done, and I didn’t have enough experience or wisdom to help her break the logjam.

But here it is, Sunday night, and I’m on the couch, writing this blog early for the holiday weekend, getting invoices done, reviewing content for all the projects, and moving forward, with energy and enthusiasm.

What changed? I pruned the rose bushes.

I’m being literal. I pruned the rose bushes. And the crepe myrtles. And moved some salvia, and planted some daffodils.

That broke the logjam. That put me back into productivity.

For me, pruning the roses isn’t an exercise in distraction, or an opportunity to think through my work. I don’t really know why it works. It doesn’t matter WHY it works. It just matters THAT it works.

Corporate life isn’t known for being flexible. If you take a corporate job, you’ve signed up for someone else’s work style. Whether or not it works for you.

I don’t know about you, but what I’ve noticed is that you need what you need to be a success.

If you do some research, you’ll find many examples of odd or unusual foundations for work. Just off the top of my head, here are a few examples.

  1. A very famous advertising writer fueled his writing with fifths of Scotch.
  2. A notable politician did half his work while in bed.
  3. A well-known playwright had his valet hide his clothes so he HAD to write.
  4. A king was well-known for starting his day by shooting a peasant each morning. No, I’m not kidding. He was given a gun filled with blanks, and one of his attendants dressed as a serf. The ‘serf’ writhed and groaned in agony when ‘shot.’

Being a good employee is, in part, about conforming to the corporate culture. In some respects, that’s more important than maximizing productivity. But when you’re self-employed, your job is to be as productive as possible. Your clients don’t care if you’re writing in the nude, or standing on your head. They care whether or not you’re efficient and impactful.

So, I have a challenge for you. What unusual tactic would make you more effective — starting today?

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Published: November 23, 2012

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