Enter “Do Mode” (The Only Productivity Secret You’ll Ever Need)

The thing with idlers is that we know when to stop. When to relax. When to philosophize. When to discuss. When to have a beer. Or twelve. And then we know when to start and do the thing we thought about – as effectively and efficiently as possible.

The only secret we need to know is called “Do Mode”. We can spend hours or days or weeks or months gathering information, thinking things through, discussing on internet forums, exchanging ideas with friends, doing market research, and eating cake. But once time has come, we enter “Do Mode”. We sit down and write that book. We paint that painting. We open that business. We immerse ourselves in whatever task we got at hand.

What we don’t need: To do lists, fancy gadgets, a quiet workplace, to be in the best of health, a Moleskine notebook, a fresh cup of coffee, perfect conditions.

We just need to start. Write one sentence. Paint one brushstroke. Fill out one page of that standard form. Then we enter “Do Mode”, and all we have to do is go on until we finish.

The Idle Musings are short posts of 300 words maximum. They are published on The Friendly Anarchist every other Tuesday. Grab the RSS feed to get them right into your reader. On a personal note, I got to get on a surprise trip to Europe and am currently in Germany, happy to see many dear friends and family members, but already missing the Caribbean sun. During the next days I will try to enter “Do Mode” and get the next posts of the Tempo Giusto series written before traveling to England on Sunday. Thanks for your patience!

Comments 13

  1. Oscar - freestyle mind February 24, 2010

    I’m trying to leverage the do mode by working in early morning. I can get a lot done and now I’m even turning off my computer at 6pm. It’s an awesome sensation.

    • Fabian February 24, 2010

      Oscar, I read about it on Twitter yesterday. Indeed a good habit to not be behind a computer til late at night! As I’m more of a night person, I often enjoy computer-free mornings!

  2. Milo February 24, 2010

    Very true Fabian.

    I do think though that in order to get into Do mode, you need to be decisive and have clear goals. Setting deadlines or a schedule for yourself also helps.

    This is difficult for some people, including me (though I am working on it).

    • Fabian February 24, 2010

      In the end, it’s “Do whatever works for you”. I think this is the thing with all the productivity sites out there: We don’t really need any of them, we just need to find our own way of doing things. Deadlines for example work great for me, but only as long as they are not my own – if I just make them up, they most probably won’t work, but stress me out. Other people are a lot more disciplined with this, of course.

  3. Nate February 24, 2010

    Yup…agreed on this. People link to think, think, think, analyze, review, think more….which creates a perpetual state of doing nothing. What’s kind of funny is that creativity and the actual process of ‘doing’ can come out of ‘non-doing.’ Once you quiet your mind and tune out a lot of the noise you may notice that new ideas and creative ‘sparks’ will suddenly emerge making the doing more effortless.

    • Fabian February 25, 2010

      In this sense, I like what Oscar is doing. Logging out at 6pm and taking time for other things. As you know, I’ll also always reserve some time for non-doing! :)

  4. jean February 24, 2010

    Fabian, I love this message. And no surprise the results of what’s be “done” today is proportional to how I’m feeling. What would Yoda do?

    Good stuff. :-)

  5. Earl February 27, 2010

    This is definitely true. There is no sense in trying to force ourselves into the do-mode when clearly we are in the do-nothing-mode. I find it much more beneficial to head out of the house instead of wasting three hours trying to piece together the first line of a new project when it just isn’t going to happen. And I find that my most effective do-mode only arrives if I’ve spent enough time enjoying life in general and not stuck behind the computer when I shouldn’t be.

    • Fabian February 28, 2010

      That’s it, Earl. More wandering can certainly help in getting things done.
      For a time, I was really interested in all the productivity hacks written about in so many blogs, but in the end it really comes down to just “do the thing” when the moment has arrived. No other hacks necessary, in my opinion.

  6. JC Hewitt March 3, 2010

    I find that I can only enter “do mode” if I read nothing and communicate directly with no one beforehand that day. It’s just wake up -> eat -> exercise -> eat -> do mode -> communicate/read -> wind down.

    • Fabian March 9, 2010

      This works fine in many cases for sure! I was refering to the cases you need to have had access to some required information before really doing the thing… some tasks will do without that, of course, but others will need this stage of info gathering, I suppose.

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