How to (Continually) Do Your Best Work

There are probably 1,000,000 blog posts out there on how to do one’s best work and they are probably filed under something like Productivity Hacks and the like… so what I’m about to share with you is completely unoriginal.

But, apparently humans like consuming the same thing over and over and over again, so, despite the fact that you’ve read a post like this 10 times this week, I’m sure you’ll read mine with just as much (lack of…?) enthusiasm!

And besides… who doesn’t love listicles? We all do… right?

Recently I was asked about some of my daily work habits and if I had ever codified them into a simple way of thinking about work; I told the person that I have written about my work habits and so-called “productivity hacks” a ton of times on my blog but I rattled off a few top-of-mind thoughts that I thought might be helpful.

… I’m unsure of how helpful they actually were.

But, I went back to my desk and tried to remember a few of them because I really do believe that they represent, as closely as possible, the very things that go through my brain as I do work and some of the internal workflows that I use to ensure that I can continue to do good work, especially when circumstances aren’t perfect.

It’s taken some time, but, I’ve turned many of my habits from amateur ones into professional ones – this makes all the difference.

A few of these thoughts in no particular order:

  1. Do the work. Showing up is 99% of the game, even when you’re not feeling so great. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t deploy a ton of self-care though.
  2. If you wait for inspiration then you’ll never get anything done.
  3. Discipline grounds creativity. Discipline is the foundation for creative freedom. You must learn to love it.
  4. Your best work today is the result of you shipping absolute dog shit when you first started. Embrace the process of slowly getting better over a long period of time.
  5. When people tell you that your work is shit you should thank them for taking the time to give you feedback. Then, continue moving forward.
  6. There’s a high probability that you’ll never be satisfied with anything that you do. That’s just how it is. Besides, you’ll most likely reinvent the way that you do your work (and where and how and why and with whom) a thousand times over before it’s all done.
  7. Sometimes the people in your life hold you back from doing your best work – that’s a problem that you will have to solve (and the sooner the better). Sadly, most people will never be able to “fire” a friend or create healthy boundaries and their best work will never see the light of day! The world is poorer for this lack of courage.
  8. We get distracted way too easily and most of us work in environments that only make it worse. In fact, most of us can’t even conceive or appreciate how distracted we really are! Usually, it’s because we’re too scared to do our greatest work and we’re strangely comfortable with being mediocre.
  9. It’s okay to have ambition but one should endeavor to be ambitious for the work itself, not what the work can or will produce for you (i.e. the reward). Continually executing great work is timeless, in a sense, and isn’t bound to specific deliverables.
  10. If you’re not having (a bit of) fun then you’re most likely doing it wrong. Enjoying one’s work is a great prize and natural benefit and sister to “Great Work” and one should experience it daily.

Show up, get to work, and enjoy the process. Good luck!

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