Many people look at hyper-productive individuals and think that their secret sauce is that they’re inherently productive. Truth be told, being productive isn’t a single attribute; there are a few key ingredients to productivity, including focus, self-awareness, prioritization, and willpower.
So let’s talk about willpower for a moment. It doesn’t matter how much you know about being productive if you can’t deliberately apply that knowledge. Continuing to be productive in the face of distraction takes a strong willpower muscle.
That’s why Leo Babauta’s technique, “Twice, Then Quit,” as described and developed in this piece really resonated with me. Babauta describes this concept in the context of meditation:
When you’re meditating and you feel like getting up, don’t; then when you feel the urge to get up a second time, don’t; and when you feel the urge to get up a third time, then get up. So you sit through the urge, the discomfort, twice before finally giving in the third time. This is a nice balance, so that you’re pushing your comfort zone a little. You can do this in exercise and many other activities—push a little.
This applies in every facet of life, not just meditation. You’re working on a presentation at work and want to check your email. Push yourself to resist that urge twice before giving in. You think your newfound Photoshop skills aren’t enough to do this project for your colleague. Try to find the answer for yourself two more times before asking someone for help.
By resisting twice before quitting, we’re strengthening a mental muscle, just as much as a bicep curl develops physical strength. And with each time you push yourself just a little bit, you’ll be doing more and procrastinating less.
Now that’s a productivity superpower.