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  • - One of my favorite parts of my morning routine

  • is the time I spend reading.

  • Every single morning, I sit down in this office chair,

  • I grab a book, and I read, accompanied by

  • a few essential tools: a cup of freshly-brewed coffee,

  • a pen for marking in my book

  • so I can take notes on what I read later,

  • and perhaps most importantly,

  • this little green notebook that sits near my feet.

  • This is my distraction journal.

  • Whenever something pops into my head and pulls my attention

  • away from what I'm reading, I simply jot down

  • a note about it in this journal

  • so my brain can safely dismiss it

  • without being worried about forgetting it.

  • But there's something odd about my distraction journal.

  • In between the pages of little notes about distractions,

  • you know, buying a deck umbrella,

  • or checking with my team about something,

  • there are pages upon pages of notes

  • about my most creative and most significant work.

  • In fact, my most recent entry in this distraction journal

  • has nearly six pages about a video that I'm working on,

  • nearly outlining the entire thing.

  • So this is a distraction journal,

  • this is meant for jotting down quick little notes

  • and then getting back to what I was doing,

  • and yet I find myself using it

  • to do real, serious, significant work,

  • even when I don't intend to.

  • Meanwhile, half the time I sit down at a computer

  • with the intent to do some quote-unquote serious work,

  • I find myself staring at a blinking cursor.

  • I'm kinda like, if you've seen the movie "Limitless",

  • I'm kinda like Bradley Cooper's character, Eddie Morra.

  • You know, I put in the time, I stay in the room,

  • and yet nothing.

  • Now, unlike Eddie, my solution to this problem

  • is not taking a small translucent drug,

  • though while we're talking about "Limitless",

  • I do have to just take a second to admire

  • the way the filmmakers used the change in color grading

  • to illustrate the change in his mental state

  • after taking NZT.

  • That from a filmmaking perspective is just (smacks lips).

  • It is, it's great, but I digress.

  • My solution here is not a drug, it's an idea.

  • Creative work, or difficult, challenging work

  • is kind of like a non-Newtonian fluid.

  • Now if you've never heard this term before,

  • you've probably at least seen

  • one of these substances in the past.

  • A non-Newtonian fluid acts just like a normal fluid

  • most of the time, but when it's struck really quickly,

  • its structure, its molecules become very rigid

  • and the entire substance acts like a solid.

  • So imagine if you had an entire bucket of this stuff

  • and you wanted to submerge your hand into it.

  • Well, you could do it very easily

  • if you did it slowly, if you eased your hand in,

  • maybe started with the fingertips first,

  • but if you punched it,

  • if you just slam your hand into it very quickly,

  • the substance is going to tense up

  • and it's gonna be basically like punching a wall,

  • it's not gonna work.

  • And this is exactly how I think of creative work as well.

  • When you make these giant, sweeping statements

  • like Eddie Morra in "Limitless":

  • "Today's the day.

  • "I'm gonna write the entire book today",

  • you slam into the brick wall.

  • The task you've set for yourself

  • is so big, so intimidating, that you just can't get into it,

  • but ease into it, and you sometimes find yourself

  • immersed in what psychologists call the flow state:

  • a place where you're completely focused on your work.

  • In this state, the act of creation is all-encompassing,

  • it's fun, and you sometimes find yourself

  • losing track of time until you come out of it.

  • Now, getting into the flow state is not always easy,

  • but it does seem like you can do it more consistently

  • when you ease into your work.

  • It's almost like you're tricking your brain into doing it.

  • So, for the rest of this video,

  • I wanna share three ideas that you can use

  • to trick your brain into getting into the flow state,

  • and the first one is very simple: start incredibly small.

  • Don't make these grand, sweeping gestures

  • that just make your work very intimidating,

  • and the example I wanna give here is actually about the book

  • that I wrote a few years ago.

  • So, if you know anything about my work,

  • you know that I've written a book

  • called "10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades",

  • but this book was actually not

  • my first attempt to write a book.

  • It was my second.

  • My first attempt was a complete and utter failure,

  • again because I just intimidated myself,

  • and I never got started.

  • And I made what I thought was a very big, grand gesture

  • that would force me to write the book.

  • I literally bought a ticket

  • to a conference down in Texas, and flew down there.

  • The conference was called Finish Up Weekend,

  • and the entire point of that event

  • was to get a bunch of creatives, a bunch of entrepreneurs

  • into a room, and have everyone pick one task,

  • and work as hard as possible

  • for like 54 straight hours to get it done.

  • So I showed up with the intent

  • to write an entire book,

  • thinking that being surrounded by all these people

  • and having a grand intention

  • would make me get the book done,

  • but instead, I came out of that event

  • with nothing to show for it.

  • I remember staring at my word processor on my laptop,

  • just unable to write anything that I was happy with,

  • so for this book, I took a completely different approach.

  • Number one, this was not even intended to be a book

  • when I started it.

  • This was gonna be like a 5,000 word max PDF,

  • like a bonus download for people

  • who joined my email list over my website.

  • And my approach to writing that PDF

  • was to first create a big outline in Evernote

  • that had 10 different sections,

  • and a bunch of little sub-bullets beneath them,

  • and then with my habit-tracking app,

  • I set a goal of writing 500 words per day.

  • So every single day, I would pick one of those sub-bullets

  • from the outline and sit down to write 500 words,

  • and because that goal was so small, on a daily basis,

  • just write 500 words about one tiny little topic

  • from my outline, I wrote consistently.

  • So consistently, in fact,

  • that my 5,000-word PDF eventually ballooned

  • into a 27,000-word book,

  • which is now in print and in audiobook,

  • so again, if you can start small,

  • that will help you to put in effort consistently,

  • and over time, those small little efforts will add up,

  • and you'll get something that is just as grand

  • as you intended in the first place.

  • All right, tactic number two

  • is to assume that you are creating garbage,

  • or at least allow yourself to create garbage,

  • and this is another thing that really helped

  • the process of writing this book.

  • When I sat down to write my 500 words per day,

  • that was my only goal: just write 500 words.

  • They didn't have to be 500 beautifully-edited words,

  • they didn't have to all make it into the book.

  • I just had to hit 500 words,

  • and on some days, I really did not feel like writing,

  • so I would spend, you know, the first two or 300 words

  • of that writing session writing about

  • how I really didn't wanna be there,

  • and I really didn't wanna be doing that,

  • but eventually, I would build some momentum,

  • and I would usually get, you know, at least one or two

  • usable paragraphs out of that writing session.

  • Finally, tactic number three: jot things down

  • in non-ideal places.

  • Do work in places that don't feel like

  • they're made for work.

  • This brings us back to the distraction journal.

  • This thing is not meant for intense writing.

  • I don't use this, or at least I don't intend to use this

  • to outline full videos,

  • and I definitely don't intend to outline full videos

  • while I'm sitting in my reading chair