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Making ideas happen: How to build a rock solid routine to maximize your productivity

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Dec 6, 2013
99u book

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives” claimed Annie Dillard. So it’s important to remain conscious and make our best effort to get fullest out of every minute we live. To do so we must maximize our productivity and facilitate a habit of becoming productive. However, productivity demands trade off to happen. In a world of ubiquitous distraction we must act on a routine that suit our personal taste and priority and that helps us to find our sweet spot.

Once again Behance’s 99u.com-the digest of insight on making ideas happen-offers us a true jam on making our days and maximizing our capacity. The book titled ‘Manage your day-to-day: Build your routine, find your focus, and sharpen your creative mind’ is a treasure trove of what it takes to build a rock solid routine, find dogged focus, and find our creative epiphany. It shares practical wisdom and daily rituals from people who have made making ideas happen a habit. With a profound foreword from the founder of Behance, Scot Blesky, it takes us to the world of brilliant essays on maximizing our productive genius and living our best. Along with practical tidbits on building rock solid routine and finding focus it also gives a sound antidote to why we need routine at the first place:

Understanding the importance: Echoing Polaroid founder Edwin Land’s- thousand steps to success- it proposes Rome was not built overnight and true achievement takes time. And to make room for miracle to happen we need to get to work hundreds of hours:

Truly great creative achievements require hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of work, and we have to make time every single day to put in those hours. Routines help us do this by setting expectations about availability, aligning our workflow with our energy levels, and getting our minds into a regular rhythm of creating.

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However, it not only talks about the importance of building a rock solid routine but also shares practical way-out from makers on how to build one for you too. Doing truly great work requires hard work and attention for a prolong period of time. It demands you to come to the table and get to the work no matter how you feel. It requires consistency. Getting things done is not a matter of inspiration rather an act of creating framework to get things done:

At the end of the day—or, really, from the beginning—building a routine is all about persistence and consistency. Don’t wait for inspiration; create a framework for it.

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99u image 4

Make a better deal with yourself: Understanding our cravings, triggers, and energy are important for building a better routine for us. How you operate best, when you operate best, and what makes you to operate best have a lot to do with your level of productivity. And building blocks of your routine must be built around these how, when and what.

MARK MCGUINNESS gives us the building blocks of a great daily routine:

* Start with the rhythm of your energy levels.
* Use creative triggers.
* Manage to-do list creep.
* Capture every commitment.
* Establish hard edges in your day

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Every day matter: Making progress is a daily process. So, you need to build a habit of working every day on your goal. To be regular is to be productive. A daily work for a prolong period of time can make very hard and tough journey easier. Gretchen Rubin the author of best seller Happiness Project suggests you to make frequency a matter:

We tend to overestimate what we can do in a short period, and underestimate what we can do over a long period, provided we work slowly and consistently. Anthony Trollope, the nineteenth-century writer who managed to be a prolific novelist while also revolutionizing the British postal system, observed, “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.” Over the long run, the unglamorous habit of frequency fosters both productivity and creativity.

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Practice and fear: Nobody is born genius everybody achieves it through hard work and persistent practice. You got to practice a lot to make a mark. Marketing genius and change agent Seth Godin proposes we practice every day and overcome our fear to live big:

The practice is a big part. The second part of it, which I think is really critical, is understanding that being creative means that you have to sell your ideas. If you’re a professional, you do not get to say, “Ugh, now I have to go sell it”—selling it is part of it because if you do not sell it, there is no art. No fair embracing one while doing a sloppy job on the other.

{.....} I've never met anybody who is great at selling who was born that way. I think that all the people who have figured out how to do this for a living have figured it out because it was important to them, not because it came naturally. Whereas I know tons of people who call themselves artists who were born with talents and never really had to push themselves to be good at it. They think they are entitled to make a living at this thing, but they are not willing to do the hard part—selling—that everyone finds hard.

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Step back and reflect: We often get too busy to see, to reflect, and to assess ourselves which is detrimental to our progress and productivity. Occasionally we should step back and wonder and reflect to see whether we are on the right track. Simplicity blogger and author of multiple books including Focus, and 52 changes Leo Babota makes it clear why we should take a break and listen to the nature and ourselves:

Today, it is essential that we find solitude so that we can learn what it has to teach us, so that we can find the quiet to listen to our inner voice, and so that we may find the space to truly focus and create.

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Show up: Every day you take the path and walk through- that makes a lot difference. Consistency has a lot to with how we operate and how effectively we operate. Haruki Murakami says: I run everyday no matter what happens because when I take a day off it pushes to take off next day. Showing up makes all the difference. Woody Allen once said 80% of success is about showing up. Make sure you hang on and keep making difference.


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Ruhul Kader is a technology and business analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, technology policy, and society. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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