I have a secret that I want to share, a secret to success. You often hear that there are no shortcuts to getting what you want, but this isn’t true. There are serious shortcuts. Incredible shortcuts. I’m about to let you in on the most important one. I might even say it’s the only one.
You simply won’t believe how simple this secret is. You also won’t believe how nearly impossible it is to abide by the tip I’m about to give you. Most of you will shake your head and walk away. Many of you will agree with the principle but never act on it. There’s a good chance that not a single person will incorporate this into their daily routine and witness how utterly powerful this shortcut can be. But I’m going to spill it anyway.
This secret helped me ace my college classes with a fraction of the stress my peers felt. It has made me a valued employee at every job I’ve held. I like to think it makes me a good domestic partner. It certainly makes me a great homeowner. And I believe it’s the main reason that I’ve been so successful as a self-published author. My secret is this:
When I see something that needs doing, I do it.
There you go. Simple as that. How is this a shortcut? Because it forms a direct line between knowing a thing requires doing and having it done. The beauty of this principle is this: You’re going to spend the exact same amount of time actually doing things.
The first time I formalized this process was in college. I remember sitting in Dr. Goldsberry’s class as a writing assignment was handed out. There was a chorus of groans. As I looked over the assignment, I knew without a doubt that I would put this off until the night before it was due. And something hit me (maybe it was my contrarian nature, which is so pronounced that I often disagree with myself). I wondered — if I’m going to blast the work out in a single night — why not make it that night?
I went to the library after class and checked out source material. That night, back at the marina, I cranked out the entire story. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t going to be fun weeks later. Two days later, back at class, my peers were groaning about the assignment, forming study groups, talking about everything else getting heaped on them, and I felt light as a bird. This is when something else hit me: Not only would I do the same amount of work either way, the best thing about this process is that I would spend one day stressing rather than weeks.
The process became addicting. I believe this is an extension of my hatred of being in debt. Undone tasks weigh on me like a loan. I’m borrowing free time from my former self. I decided to do things as soon as they needed doing, giving myself the same amount of free time, but without all the weight on my shoulders. Dishes in the sink? They’ve gotta get done. They have to. What doesn’t have to happen is all the annoyance of tolerating them being there or stressing about who else might do them. It takes less time to just do it. The shortcut is a direct line between need and action. That’s the secret.
It isn’t easy, and it requires practice. This is a habit like an unused muscle. You have to limber it up and exercise it.
I’ve had numerous people tell me that my turnaround time took them aback. A publisher will email with a requests for a video. Instead of responding and flagging that email, I grab my camera and tripod, shoot the video, copy it to my computer, and send them the attachment. Interview questions come in? I answer them immediately. A scene I need to write? I write it. Dog wants to go for a walk? Let’s go.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have down time. It just means that when you do, you’ll have far fewer things weighing on you. If you’re in school, you should really try this once. Keep in mind that you’re going to put in the same amount of effort and time either way. The difference is how many days you’ll spend stressed. It certainly takes willpower. It takes practice and effort. But there’s no greater tool in your arsenal for being successful, whatever it is that you want to accomplish.
Try it. Start right now. Take a shortcut today. And then enjoy a rest while the world catches up.