Last December, a colleague and I were talking to my friend Ashish Chordia, who also doubles up as our startup coach.
When we excitedly told him about the new program we were going to create (on journaling), he asked, “How long will it take?”
My colleague said, “3-6 months, minimum.”
Ashish asked – “Can you do it in a month?”
It sounded crazy. Just for context, the previous bootcamp we created took me one year. But to really push myself, I asked, “Can I create the program content in a day?”
In fact, I did it. And this is the story of how I did it. And I believe that if you also adopt this approach, you too can do some pretty crazy stuff.
Here is the approach I took:
1. I made the hardest step as easy as possible
The hardest and the most time-taking step in creating the program was the recording of the videos. Everything else is relatively straightforward.
So I asked myself – ‘What is the biggest obstacle that typically delays content creation?”
In the past, I would land in the recording studio and record a video or two. Then, some doubt or question would crop up in my mind, and I would start researching. Soon, the momentum was lost. I would then discontinue the video recording and resolve to restart the next day.
Every time I restarted, it took me some time to recreate the context and remember where I had left off the last time. All that slowed me down.
So this time, before I entered the recording studio, I neatly laid out all the key points for each video to be recorded. Fortunately, I had already deeply researched the topic and knew the content thoroughly.
So when I entered the recording studio, there was no rethinking or bottleneck. One after the other, I recorded 20-plus videos in a single session – it was a breeze.
In fact, think of a chef on a cooking show – when the camera starts rolling, they start cooking. And it all looks so smooth. But what if between the cooking, they started rummaging for onions and garlic in the fridge? That is what you have to avoid.
The big learning – do the groundwork to make the most critical part of the process as frictionless as possible.
2. Commit to the goal and burn the boats
The day I decided to record the content, I sent a Slack message to my colleagues which said, “I am committing to complete the recording of this new bootcamp on journaling today. I won’t go home until this is done. Tomorrow morning, at 11 am, ask me if I completed the recording.”
Many of my team members responded to the message with emojis. And now, my goose was cooked. There was no going back – I had to do it.
If I did not keep my commitment as the CEO, why would they keep their commitments?
Burn the boats. Cut out all options to retreat. Let there be only one way – forward. Then, you will do it.
3. Overwhelming prioritization – no task-switching
The day I started recording the content, I eliminated all competing priorities from my mind. That day, I had only one task.
For many hours, I did not check my emails or Slack messages. I did not take any calls. Nor did I open my browser. One thing, and one thing only – the goal.
Typically, when we are working on a task, we suddenly remember some other urgent thing. And once we switch to that task, even if for just a few moments, the focus bubble pops. The momentum is gone and things slow down. I have also been guilty of this.
And why does this happen? Because multiple tasks seem to have comparable priority.
Think of it this way. On a scale of 10, if your chosen task’s priority is 10 while all other tasks are 2 or 3, you will not switch. Else you will.
I call this overwhelming prioritization.
So if you want to get something really, really done, make it level 10 priority and make everything else low priority. When one task is overwhelmingly important, distractions fade away and you get in that hyper-productive zone.
4. Taking breaks
In between the recording of videos, when I felt mentally saturated, I would take a break and walk around. But I would not switch to another task. My phone was in flight mode and there were no distractions.
Take as many breaks as you need. Do whatever, but don’t switch tasks, don’t lose momentum, and don’t quit.
That’s it. It is simple, it is hard, but it is doable.
If you follow this methodology, you will deliver such extreme performance that you will surprise yourself.
But how do you know if this works? Try it out and see for yourself.
Time for reading is over. Now it is time for doing. Do it.