Updated: Mar 2
How I learn to ruthlessly prioritize and keep my sanity
“Yes” is positive but “No” is smarter. The high pace insanity of today’s world will always put your mind in a perpetual hyperdrive. That level of exhaustion is sustainable if you’re a machine with troubleshooting capabilities. The overdrive and hassle will leap you to the next stage but not the big ones as you slowly falter.
How do you even keep up and still over-achieve? Well, you have to say “No” to a lot of unnecessary distractions to your primary goal. A detour from your goal is fine as long as you find your way towards that dream and minimize them. This is almost impossible if you say “Yes” to all purposeless, diversion.
Instead of filtering your photos online, focus on filtering choices to viciously match your nucleus.
My ultimate goal last year is to complete my first book while working a full-time job in the mental health field, this combination is a cerebral combustion waiting to happen. I love my job and I want to chase my writing career as well. One thing is certain, I can’t do both if I’m not healthy both physically and mentally.
I accomplished this by ruthlessly prioritizing and sacrificing cringe social interactions, after-work drinks (or before), video games, and I’d even limited my binge watching.
Why? Because there is no other way to get from a blank page to 30,000 words. If there is, then everyone can simply whip up a best-selling book.
So, how did I get from A to B while keeping my sanity?
Being in total control of my calendar
Productivity is not doing a hundred tasks a day, it’s doing what really matters and not a lot of things around you are exponentially important. That’s the hard truth. At work, I put all task in my calendar. Totally transparent for everyone to see so they avoid sending unneeded invites for meetings. If something urgent comes up, deal with it then refocus and recalibrate. I am still in control.
Without control of your calendar, you will be in utter chaos because people will fill it up for you.
2. Say “No” right away!
I learned to say “No” fast before procrastinating and eventually convincing myself to say a half-hearted, “Yes.” If you’re not convinced the first time, chances are you are merely trying to convince yourself. Stop and onto the next one.
3. I take a step back, even a step further.
Conventional wisdom will tell you to keep moving forward. In reality, to move forward there will be countless setbacks and some of these will be self-imposed step backs. While I was writing my first book, I wrote everyday but I’d also shelve it and do photography and create videos to electrify my creativity. Sometimes it was not even a step back but a total shut down and that is okay as long as you take it back from the shelf.
4. Ignoring is not saying “No.”
Don’t confuse ignorance to actually saying “No.”
5. Practice before commitment
Commitment is a process. Society will hone you the value of commitment in all endeavours. May it be creative, mundane tasks, or relationships. However, practicing all the steps towards a commitment is critically essential to actually committing.
To complete my book, I valued the small, inelegant steps such as writing through writer’s block, murdering words written and realizing they don’t make sense, and taking a step forward amidst the numerous failures. After doing all these — consistently, I was able to commit to the end goal.
By ruthlessly prioritizing, I published my first book within 6 months while working full-time. You’ll think that this is extremely restrictive but by practicing this concept, I felt tremendously liberated. To create something great, comes with greater sacrifice.