Dog walks used to annoy the hell out of me.
I live in the UK so most of the time it’s a bit too grey and gloomy for my liking.
My main problem is that I feel dog walks eat into my productivity. It’s 45 minutes – twice a day – I’m not making progress in my business.
Recently though, I’ve started using a technique I learned from Cal Newport’s Deep Work that’s helped me dial back the frustration.
I know that sounds like an Oxymoron…
(“What the hell’s an ‘Oxy’? And don’t call me ‘moron’.”)
… but this idea has helped me make progress in something I’ve been wanting to do for ages.
Here’s the basic idea of Productive Meditation: you use moments of downtime – waiting in line, having a shower, performing brain surgery – to mentally tackle a problem.
There’s a bit more to it than that, but you get the idea.
Now, “go out for a walk and have a bit of a think” probably isn’t the earth-shaking value bomb you might have been hoping for, but for me…
It bloody well was.
I’ve started slowly with P.M. – using the first part of the dog walk to come up with gags I can post to my Instagram page.
Carving out time to write jokes has been on my “I really need to get round to this” list for a while, but like most things on that list (Hiking the Himalayas, learning my wife’s name)…
I never seem to get around to it.
The simple act of dedicating a TINY portion of my day to this one thing has made a big difference.
Like I said, I’ve started slowly…
I go on the walk and think of a gag.
ONE MEASLY GAG.
As soon as I think of one – and I have a clear vision of how I’m going to deploy it – I dictate it into Trello so I don’t forget it and then dive back into my ever increasing podcast playlist.
This stupidly simple practice has made something clear:
The first step in doing something? MAKING TIME TO DO IT.
It doesn’t have to be a massive chunk of time either. You don’t need to take three weeks off work, or cancel your Tuesday night Phlebotomy for enthusiastic beginners class.
For example, I thought of the idea for this gag before I’d even crossed the road outside our house. A few minutes later I came up with the Where’s Waldo/Wally? hook and I was pretty much done.
Some days it’s easier than others. Also, I have to remind myself to focus on the process, rather than counting the side-splitting gags.
(Present side-splitting gag tally = 0)
As long as I make the time and come up with a gag (no matter how bad… yikes!)… it counts as a win.
Have a look for any downtime/annoying spots in your day.
See if there are any that lend themselves to mentally wrestling with a problem you never get round to tackling.
It’s a win-win – you have a more enjoyable “bad” experience AND you finally get to tick something off your “oh my god… that’s been there since 1989!!!” list.