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How Do You Keep Keep Going?

Or how do you actually go do anything else you committed to do for yourself?
I always got confused on what to do when the going got tough and life happened and my goals then got waylaid.
Other than feeling lost and giving up on projects and promising to do better tomorrow, or next time?
(which took a looooooong time to come)
What could I do?

James Clear offers a lovely heuristic, that I have been applying to my writing since the year began.
(along with Seth’s advice to queue things up)

3. Reduce the scope, but stick to the schedule.

I've written previously about the importance of holding yourself to a schedule and not a deadline.
There might be occasions when deadlines make sense, but I'm convinced that when it comes to doing important work over the long–term, following a schedule is much more effective.

When it comes to the day-to-day grind, however, following a schedule is easier said than done.
Ask anyone who plans to workout every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and they can tell you how hard it is to actually stick to their schedule every time without fail.

To counteract the unplanned distractions that occur and overcome the tendency to be pulled off track, I've made a small shift in how I approach my schedule.

My goal is to put the schedule first and not the scope, which is the opposite of how we usually approach our goals.

For example, let's say you woke up today with the intention of running 3 miles this afternoon.
During the day, your schedule got crazy and time started to get away from you.
Now you only have 20 minutes to workout.

At this point, you have two options.

The first is to say, “I don't have enough time to workout today,” and spend the little time you have left working on something else.
This is what I would usually have done in the past.

The second option is to reduce the scope, but stick to the schedule. Instead of running 3 miles, you run 1 mile or do five sprints or 30 jumping jacks.
But you stick to the schedule and get a workout in no matter what.
I have found far more long-term success using the this approach than the first.

On a daily basis, the impact of doing five sprints isn't that significant, especially when you had planned to run 3 miles.
But the cumulative impact of always staying on schedule is huge. No matter what the circumstance and no matter how small the workout, you know you're going to finish today's task.
That's how little goals become lifetime habits.

Finish something today, even if the scope is smaller than you anticipated.

If you like this tip the whole post is even more awesome.
Go find out Time Management Tips That Actually Work on his blog.

P.S. You should subscribe to the mailing list, you know. :)
P.P.S I haven’t missed a single week since I started doing this!


Time Management and Writers Block

Just a couple of links to pique your interest.

James Clear, one of the few “self-help” authors, I actually read and follow, has this to say on time management:

  • What is urgent in your life and what is important to your life are often very different things.
  • Eliminate half-work at all costs.
  • Do the most important thing first.
  • Reduce the scope, but stick to the schedule.

Read the whole, really well written article to learn more.



Mary Beth Keane on how she decides what to write about,

How to choose one’s subject is so incredibly personal. A writing professor of mine at the University of Virginia once gave my workshop the best advice.
He said to wait to start writing until we felt like pots boiling over.
I really try to live by that advice.
It seems to me that when an idea is true and right, it sort of takes seed and grows. Some ideas SEEM great, but leave me cold when I think too much about them.
It’s the ones that make my heart beat faster that are the ones to pursue, I’ve learned. You have to pick something that you’re going to want to stick with for years.


The Best Writing Advice I Could Give You

Sometimes Seth Godin makes it easy for me to do the newsletter.
There’s a pithy post that says everything I want to say.
So, to the kids I coach, this is the best writing advice I could give you!
(Everything below the break is Seth, (emphases mine))


Decorating a car with bling, mudflaps and an airhorn is a form of signalling. You can show your peers that you have the resources to waste on superfluous adornments.

(Did you see what I just did there? I could have said, “You can show your friends that you have money to burn,” but I didn’t.)

Overwriting has a long tradition, particularly among academics. Make it a bit more complex and wordy than it needs to be. Write run-on sentences. Apparently, complicated writing must be more true.

One reason for this commitment to overwriting is that it keeps the hordes away. It’s difficult to read and hard to imagine writing. And so scarcity is created.

And yet, the articles and books that stand the test of time are straightforward. They’re memorable. They can be understood by the reader you seek to serve.

Simply write.

Write simply.

As few words as you need, but no fewer.

But simply write.


Subscribe to read more every week!

Absolutely Make Time for Reading

From the Writing Routines1 pdf that is available on signing up to their mailing list…

“If I had a nickel for every person who ever told me he/she wanted to become a writer but “didn’t have time to read,” I could buy myself a pretty good steak dinner. Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Stephen King, On Writing

“I write two pages. And then I read and read and read.”
José Saramago, recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature

“I can’t begin to tell you the things I discovered while I was looking for something else.”
Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”
Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language

“...EVENINGS: See friends. Read in cafés....”
Henry Miller author of Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, Tropic of Capricorn, and more.

P.S. Subscribe to the newsletter!


  1. I love the site and its interviews. Go visit and see if you like their stuff. 

A Week of Python

Ok. Time to be a bit honest.
As you folks know, I have been trying to learn programming using Python since June 2017, when I joined the 10th cohort of DGPLUG’s Summer Training.
And time and again, I have failed.
Not just with programming, but with most other projects I tried to do.

At the end of my rope, I decided to just quit everything and considered (very seriously) a return to my old stressful career, thinking maybe that is all there is for me.

Two people saved me.

The first one was Kushal Das.
The man was absolutely bull headed about me being in the right place and that if anybody could do this, it was me.

The other was my better half.
Everyday I count my blessings and am thankful that I that she chose to share her life with mine.
She patiently listens to my frustrated rants and then tells me to just dust myself up and do it again.
That failure is not the end of the world.
And then she told me to do my physio.
And that I really could do this.

Just because you failed doesn’t mean you can’t succeed.
We all fail. Mentally resilient people realize that its not failure that defines your identity but how you respond.

Shane Parrish

So towards the end of last year I decided to focus only on one or two things at once.
And at that time it meant my 12th exams.
I studied really hard for three months.
And I did not finish studying.
And I am pretty sure I am going to bomb my exam results.

Then why do I sound so chirpy?

Because I realised Kushal and Abby were right.
That I can in fact learn.
The past four months have been an exercise in frustration.
But I learnt something new everyday.
I could test myself on what I learnt and realise that I did in fact know stuff.

Which led me to my lightbulb moment.
That I cannot do all my learning like those montages they show in movies.
All my learning came from stretching just a tiny bit, every day.
I learnt the basics of Accounts, and lots of Maths.

The difficulty of a task is irrelevant, if it’s vital to your success.

— Ed Latimore

And now that exams are done, I decided to turn my attention back to programming.
And so I made a big ask of Kushal.1
I decided to go to Pune, and try to pick up the basics of programming in Python all over again.
And he graciously volunteered to mentor me for a week.

And here I am a week later, writing all sorts of tiny little programs that do whimsical things and bringing me joy.
I obviously have miles to go before I can even grasp at fluency.
But this time, I am filled with hope and a good measure of confidence. It’s been a little nerve wracking and there’s been tonnes of head scratching and back stretching.
Kushal has been extremely patient with me, guiding me these past few days, making sure I stretch just the right amount.
And for that I owe him a mountain of gratitude.
Thank you so much Kushal! I hope to pay it forward someday!

I go back home now, and I’ll keep up the momentum with small incremental, regular periods of work.
I will log progress on the dtw blog where I can rant and rave to my hearts content.
My main focus will not be on results though.
Just to stretch myself everyday.
Improve myself just that little bit every day.
And then look back one day and be amazed at how far I’ve travelled.

The way you train reflects the way you fight.
People say I’m not going to train too hard, I’m going to do this in training, but when it’s time to fight I’m going to step up.

There is no step up. You’re just going to do what you did every day.”

— Georges St. Pierre