Start Your Day As A Producer – Not A Consumer

The Problem

I always try to find new ways to help keep me motivated. These days, keeping up with information is a continuous battle. Email’s, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, tech news, new trends and gadgets…and so on. Every day new devices are announced, and new applications are launched. They all claim to help solve our daily information digest. Some do help, while others just help pile up more about GTD. My old routine kept me on checking on tech news and wander from site to site everyday. This overshadowed my productivity; I failed to start any real work. By the time I’d want to start, it would already be afternoon and time to head home. We have been consuming every morning, and this routine is not helping anymore.

A New Hope…?

In a recent research for finding a better way to help me accomplish tasks easily without much effort, I stumbled upon a very interesting thread on Reddit. The question asked was:

“What are the small lifestyle changes you’ve made that have had big impacts for you?”

A Reddit user replied with a very insightful answer. Here is a brief excerpt of that comment. (Here is the full reddit thread.)

“I make sure to start every day as a producer, not a consumer. When you get up, you may start with a good routine like showering and eating, but as soon as you find yourself with some free time you probably get that urge to check Reddit, open that game you were playing, see what you’re missing on Facebook, etc.

Put all of this off until “later”. Start your first free moments of the day with thoughts of what you really want to do; those long-term things you’re working on, or even the basic stuff you need to do today, like cooking, getting ready for exercise, etc.

This keeps you from falling into the needy consumer mindset. That mindset where you find yourself endlessly surfing Reddit, Facebook, etc. trying to fill a void in yourself, trying to find out what you’re missing, but never feeling satisfied.

When you’ve started your day with doing awesome (not necessarily difficult) things for yourself, these distractions start to feel like a waste of time. You check Facebook just to make sure you’re not missing anything important directed at you, but scrolling down and reading random stuff in your feed feels like stepping out into the Disneyland parking lot to listen to what’s playing on the car radio – a complete waste of time compared to what you’re really doing today.”

Doesn’t this sound familiar to you?

I know many who procrastinate in getting any work done, myself included. There is no one perfect system for everyone.

The concept of being a producer is very simple. Wake up and produce a work – a work that matters to you the most and needs to be done. It may be house cleaning, starting to write a blog post, read a certification guide, or do some lab work. Just do something that would result in producing a work. The idea is to start doing something.

It takes 30 days to form a habit.

I have been producing every morning for almost a month now. Every morning right after waking up, I brew my coffee and start to work. I start on work that has to be done by that day, or a work that needs to be done before weekend. I read anything that would help result in finishing my work, or watch any lecture videos and take notes.

This helps me to actually start any work I have, and it’s been proving to be very effective. I no longer start my day replying to emails and Twitter or reading my RSS feeds. It’s straight to work. For any distractions that may happen, I pause my GROWL notification. Silence the phone and unplug the cable if there are no files being downloaded.

It takes about 30 days to form a habit. Well, somewhere between 21 and 28 days according to Google research. Once the habit is formed, all of this will feel natural. You won’t have to think about it. You will be producing.

Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Tip: Don’t Break The Chain

I am sure many would find it difficult to stick to this simple plan, so I introduce you Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret: Don’t Break The Chain (link).

It’s very effective, yet simple to do. Just print out a calendar for the current month in full page format. Paste it somewhere that you or everyone would see it. Now with a FAT RED marker, start to cross out each day when you actually start your morning and produced some work. Each big cross will start to form a big chain throughout the weeks. The concept is to not break the chain. This big chain will help you visualize your accomplishments every day and help you stay motivated. Just don’t break the chain.

I hope this will help you to get more work done and be productive. Stay motivated, and help others do the same.

Don’t just read this – start this practice today. See how this small change affects your daily routine, and report back after a month’s time.

Wake up, and start producing.



  1. says

    Nice post, thanks. I like the idea of procrastinating my procrastinations.

    My one thought about ‘don’t break the chain’ is that I personally like to take one day a week where I don’t do anything related to my day job. It leaves time free for other interests and gives me a weekly chance to re-charge my batteries. I’d be happy to see a calendar with 6 crosses in a row and then a blank (or maybe tick..). Feeling I *have* to do something every day could quickly make it feel monotonous. 

  2. says

    Maybe you can not break the chain by doing something not work related at weekends? A small house job? Sort some paperwork. If you’ve got other interests, then producing something related to that should count as a weekend X. (Perhaps put them in green or something?)

    Good post. Thanks.

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