Productivity: Brace Yourself for Defeat
(chapter 3— The Lazy Bastard Book . Click here to read the whole book)
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 25 seconds
Pretend for a minute you receive a letter (yes — not an email but a written letter, yeah… pretend it is 1995).
The letter is official. Like a government letter.
It has your name on it, a stamp, and the quality of the paper shows that this is not a standard type of notification, it’s a critical document… A proper letter of demand.
The order states that you, my beautiful lazy bastard reader, have been selected to fight Mike Tyson in a boxing match.
Yes, in this new fantasyland, you have been selected, Hunger Games style, to fight one of the most hardened badasses on the planet.
Mr Mike Tyson!
The fight is in seven days.
It’s just you, Mike Tyson, and the whole world watching.
Facebook Live, Snapchat, Instagram, Netflix, ESPN, you name it!
The fight will be covered on every single social media and streaming channel in the world.
Only you and Mike.
(Well actually, you, your Orange Monster, and Mike)
Now the question is this, how will you train for this fight?
What type of training will you take to battle one of the most vicious boxers of all time? (Don’t forget, this guy is not only an ex-World Champion but also an ex-convict!)
You can hit the gym every day, potentially twice… And I guess… Mmm, get in shape?
Or maybe you can join a cardio boxing class from 4 pm to 5 pm and then do a bit of pilates from 5 to 6 pm?
Or what about trying to practice that jab uppercut over and over until your arm gives up?
Will that do the trick?
What is the secret to beat Mike Tyson at such short notice?
Maybe the best option is to just accept your imminent defeat and if you can, try not to die in the process.
Why try to beat Mike Tyson vs. trying not to die at Mike Tyson’s hands?
Is this a cowardly attitude or is it in fact the most practical solution to avoid being murdered during this televised event?
Let that idea sink in, and while you think about Mike punching you in the face over and over again, let’s go back to our private boxing match: our battle against procrastination.
Trying not to win
The concept of productivity for years has been misrepresented, altered.
We hear sentences like:
Oh my God, today I was so productive… I did so many things on my to-do list! I crushed it!
And in fairness… We have crazy apps that give us unlimited options to create checklists for tasks that will never ever get completed. In fact, being productive is so complicated that when we actually have days when we manage to complete our to-do list, we believe that glory is finally within our grasp.
Finding the perfect way to tackle the “to-do” list is a never ending project… And it could easily resemble the list of “tasks” that a coach will try to teach you in a full confrontation with Mike Tyson.
Our checklists, to-dos, time management apps are always ready for a sequence of “things” or “actions” and we tend to believe that once we complete them, we will finally reach our perfect outcome.
In a fictitious match against Mike Tyson, a coach will give you a set list of moves to add to your repertoire, something like…
And then uppercut and knock Mike Tyson out.
Well, it is, the sequences are natural, the process is easy to understand, and I bet after a few hours you are a master at implementing this at the gym against a punching bag.
But will it really work in the real world?
How likely is it that you can firstly manage to finish all those steps and then go on to knock out Mike Tyson?
The likelihood of you knocking out Mike Tyson is basically zero. The process may be perfect, but in the words of Mike himself, we all have a plan until we get punched in the face.
So if beating Mike is not an option, surviving could be a great alternative to consider.
Yes. Surviving Mike Tyson could be possible. If you focus on learning how to duck and how to move fast vs. trying to memorize fancy boxing sequences that mean nothing in the real world.
Am I seeming pessimistic again?
Maybe… But the truth is that regardless of how “awesome” your checklist of boxing moves is, you will not KO Mike Tyson regardless of how much you train.
It doesn’t matter how many punches are on the list, in fact, the solution for you NOT TO DIE, could be to hit less and move more… To focus at some stage on not hitting, to do less boxing and more ducking.
Your new mission:
Do not try to beat Mike Tyson, instead decide simply to try to not be knocked out.
Although this analogy may initially sound difficult to relate to, it serves to try and illustrate the process of us creating extra work, leaving us more exhausted and even busier while we forget to stop and check if we are addressing the things we really need to achieve.
Living a meaningful life, with purpose and goals, is more vital than a checklist of hundreds of things we need to do before the next meeting, or before we have a quick lunch at our desks while we check our LinkedIn messages.
The reality is that our to-do lists are a never-ending source of tasks that we potentially don’t need to do. We collect more and more tasks on to-do lists that never end, and with these, our exhaustion only continues to increase.
Like a poor weak bastard training to beat Mike Tyson in a fight, our list of moves is a constant reminder of how impossible it is for us to destroy and win the battle against our procrastination.
In life, the things we need to do never end, and if you are a productivity junkie, you are never going to finish that list of pending tasks and therefore be proud of your performance or achievements.
There are always more tasks, there is still more work, there will always be more unforeseen roadblocks and opportunities out there, and you will never be completely done. And like any challenge we set ourselves, the more we look for those “things we need to do”, the pursuit of happiness and stability becomes a lower and lower priority in your life.
You can’t beat it. Period. Mike Tyson will win, and procrastination will also beat the crap out of you if you don’t change your strategy.
The more research I did for this book, the more I found articles with titles like:
“How to Hack Your Brain to Destroy Procrastination, According to Harvard Research”
“21 Little Ways to Beat Procrastination — Once and for All”.
Articles bragging about unique tips and strategies that we have seen in all types of publications, from best-selling books to BuzzFeed articles. Materials and strategies with the constant focus of destroying and eliminating procrastination from our lives. Articles begging us to fight procrastination like a virus that is slowly eating us alive.
But are these realistic premises in the first place?
Can all this be done?
Can we beat procrastination forever with 21 magical steps we found in the Marie Claire magazine at the supermarket?
In the same way, that we accept we won’t ever see articles that teach us:
“Five cute little strategies that will help you beat Mike Tyson in twenty seconds or less”…
It is essential for us to look at, and accept, procrastination as an unbeatable force, that doesn’t need to be destroyed — just tamed to ensure we survive.
Maybe jiu-jitsu is the path.
Continuing with my fighting analogies, many mixed martial artists practice the art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Jiu-jitsu changed the game in the way we see martial arts. Until the arrival of UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) we used to consider fighting like a typical striking game. This means, I kick you, I punch you, I beat you up… but then jiu-jitsu arrived and everything changed.
In case you haven’t witnessed a jiu-jitsu artist in action it looks more like athletes rolling on the floor in a mix of wrestling, gymnastics, and contortionist moves trying to get their adversary to submit. It is, in fact, a little bit like kids playing on the floor trying to overpower each other.
The exciting thing about witnessing two Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners is that they roll for hours, almost like a dance, almost like playing.
It is, in fact, beautiful to watch if you understand what’s going on.
On one occasion one may “trap” the other one in an armbar or a guillotine move, and at other times, the other one may do the same, but still, nobody wins… because the training never ends, the training is always constant, they are always flowing.
You simply tap when you realize you are going to lose or you can’t move any more and then the positions reset and they go back to square one.
So maybe jiu-jitsu can help us to understand how to tackle our internal boxing match against ourselves.
The mission is not to win the battle… it is just to survive another day without feeling so depressed about ourselves, and understand that the best fighters of all time also lose.
So don’t be so hard on yourself, even superheroes never truly win… Superman usually has pretty bad luck, and if, if after nine Star Wars movies, The Rebellion still hasn’t been able to destroy the Empire, it’s okay if you can’t defeat and destroy your Lazy Bastard on the first try.
So from now on, let’s make a deal? Our goal is no longer to destroy procrastination, our goal is just to do a bit more with our time, control the Lazy Bastard monster and when we fail, avoid feeling so bad about who we truly are…
We just want to roll with it, we just want to switch from boxing to jiu-jitsu and learn to practice, learn to lose consistently and when we do, we realize we are not trying to beat anyone, we are just trying to survive and not be crushed by the challenges ahead.
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