The simple rule that helps me get work done

A typewriter on a desk

I tend to work on a ton of things at one time.

Studying chess. Building a coaching business. Writing a book. Running this blog. Launching a new YouTube channel and podcast soon (more on that later this week).

Getting distracted can be quite the wrench in my day. So aside from a few of the popular tricks and tips—a Pomodoro timer, starting small, leaving my phone off and in the other room…there’s one rule I follow that makes everything else 10 times easier.

I stole it from Niel Gaiman, the prominent fiction writer.

When he’s writing a new book, he sits down and gives himself two options:

  1. write
  2. do nothing

That’s it. He can’t do anything else.

The freedom to not write removes any guilt associated with not getting work done. And it doesn’t take long until writing becomes less boring than just sitting there doing nothing.

I do the same.

When I’m not doing whatever deep work is needed from me, I’m sitting here daydreaming and talking to myself. Sometimes it lasts 60 seconds. Other times it lasts 20 minutes. But eventually, I always come back to the task at hand.

The impulse to check something is omnipresent. Email. Facebook. YouTube. Facebook again.

But those aren’t one of the options.

The rule must never be broken. Otherwise, it’ll be broken every day. So instead, I sit here and work…or do nothing.