I recently responded to a tweet by Derek Sivers that asked “What non-obvious ways do you find or make BALANCE in your world?”
My response garnered enough attention that I felt it warranted a short article.
I think the reason it struck a chord is that it was simple. I divide my day between Inputs and Outputs.
It’s sort of a combination of ideas from the books The One Thing, (focus on accomplishing ONE thing today that has the most impact) The Art of Learning (physiological triggers) and Deep Work (short but intense period of distraction free work)
Outputs are what I produce.
Writing this article is an output. Working on NooWave is an output.
Inputs are what I consume.
E-mail is input. Texts are inputs. All these things worming their way into my brain and distracting me. Inputs are distractions from Outputs.
It’s probably important that I mention that I actually start my day with inputs. I don’t have any special willpower. I ease into my day by mainlining Twitter and doomscrolling. I mess around, read texts and emails.
I like the idea of physiological triggers for switching into output mode. Go for a walk, listen to music or move to a certain room
Flow State Coffee (cheap plug) is my trigger for doing physiological important creative work. It’s a signal that it’s time to hit some outputs.
Once I finish my coffee, I place my phone in a kitchen timer safe, activate my Freedom app and produce something. Anything.
Usually this involves writing. I’ll draft our weekly update emails for NooWave or articles like this.
Anything I do needs to be something I produce and free from consumption. Even if it ISN’T done, it’s something I HAVE done. It’s moving myself forward, even if only an inch.
At a certain point I get hungry and cranky. Usually around 12-1pm. Since I’m an intermittent fasting guy (shocking to read in a “productivity article” I know) eating is a signal to my brain that it’s time to allow inputs.
I fully submit to my lizard brain and respond to emails, browse Twitter and Reddit. I’ll talk to customers or take meetings with partners.
After my brain hurts from doing this I go workout as a release and an unofficial ‘end’ to that day.
I don’t think inputs are bad. Inputs are serendipity, creativity and they’re fun usually. All good stories come from inputs.
My day is probably 25% output and 75% input. It’s important to have both and a little bit of output goes a long way. One without the other leaves me feeling empty.
I find this simple tactic of breaking up my day leads to a very relaxed consistency which compounds and is a far more balanced way to work every day. The days feel easy and the weeks lead to real progress.
Of every morning routine, lifestyle hack or GSD program I’ve tried this is the easiest and most effective one to stick to. I’ve implemented this around March 2020 and NooWave went from an idea in my head l to a real business, to profitable as of yesterday!
Don’t overthink it. Have a trigger for small but focused periods of outputs and do that consistently. Enjoy your inputs.
Hopefully this was one of them.