Today I'll share 2 findings with you from a recent experiment I conducted earlier this week.
The experiment revolved around the question: "How can I make my schedule more fun?'
My Hypothesis: there is a RIGHT way to schedule things.
I knew that my strategy wasn't working.
I realized that I still needed to get work done, but I wasn't having fun.
It would be nice if I could skip all the work and do fun things, but the world doesn't work like that. And so I realized that my problem wasn't getting the critical work done.
My problem was getting the hard yet NOT urgent work done.
The things that yield the most significant gains over time. But are easy to skip today.
For example: spending 1 hour practicing my interview technique, dedicating some time to writing, or building a new business.
These are challenging things but are not that urgent, and so that makes them EASILY skippable.
But I think we can solve this.
Solving For A Skippable Schedule
My first guess was this: I believe that I don't follow through on parts of my schedule because they are hard, not urgent, and not appealing.
More specifically, the language I use to describe them on my calendar isn't fun or exciting.
The first insight-> understand your core drives.
I mentioned this in my last post, but the 8 core drives by Yu-kai Chou have been an ESSENTIAL tool to help form better habits around task completion.
Use the core drives to make your schedule engaging...
This will be easier to understand through an example.
Imagine you had 1 hour booked every day to work out. Sounds good. If you want to make it more engaging, here is how you could leverage the 8 core drives.
Epic Meaning & Calling + Workout
You realize that you'll only do your best work when you are physically fit. Maybe you want to change the world; how will you do that if you're physically weak? You better get to that workout, then.
Or you realize that you want to maximize the amount of time you have with your kids & grandkids in the future, and so working out now can get you there later.
You see the bigger picture. And so resist the task less.
Accomplishment & Development + Workout
You set yourself the challenge of BEATING your PB (personal best). You lay down a challenge that you can accomplish during the session. And go ahead and try to beat it.
Or maybe you have a workout app that tracks your progress over time. You don't want to break your streak on the app. So you make sure to go to the workout.
Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback + Workout
Create your own workout routine on the fly. Don't follow the same old ritual. Spice it up with a new exercise or increase your number of reps.
Maybe do a workout differently – staying safe, ofc – and have fun with new movements.
Social Influence + Workout
Instead of a solo workout, go for a group workout. Find a friend and work out with them.
Go for a run with your dog. Be with others.
You get the point...
You can use the core drives and mix them with whatever you're trying to do.
The second insight -> use past tense.
Act as if it was already done.
I am not sure if there is some fancy brain trickery happening here. But this works.
For the last 3 days, I have had a 70-80% increase in task completion. CRAZY!
For some reason, using the past tense made the task seem more effortless. Like it was completely doable. It seemed more comfortable and manageable.
Like my brain was better able to predict how that session would go, and instead of worrying about the unknown (like my last schedule) was then able to go ahead with the desired time block.
Picturing yourself having done the desired action makes it easier to do it.
Supercharge this method by...
Adding an MVG (minimum viable goal) to the title.
For example: "studied octalysis for 5 minutes" is a straightforward thing for your brain to understand and execute. It's just 5 minutes, right?
So in sum...
Use your 8 core drives to create time blocks labelled in the past tense for MAXIMUM EFFECTIVENESS.
Try this out with something you've been putting off. Pick a core drive or two, mix it with a challenging task, use the past tense and see what happens.