The cursor blinked. And blinked again.
Aligned left and waiting for a letter to show up. The screen empty. Blinking at me.
"I'm only on Chapter 5," I'm thinking, sweating. "The manuscript is due in three weeks."
In October, I landed a lucrative book deal with a major NY publisher and the first draft was due in three weeks.
I needed a word. Just one word to get going! It was 8 a.m. and in two hours I'd produced nothing.
Then my mind start to wander. I looked at my phone and got lost in a series of group convos with my startup team, then with my friend Maneesh, and then started on Snapchat...even though the morning was supposed to be phone OFF.
There I was, endlessly tumbling down the social media rabbit hole and text messaging distraction loop of external obligations, completely unable to stop myself.
Even though my editor was expecting a finished book in a few weeks.
Even though the morning was supposed to be phone off/internet off.
Even though I promised myself I would change my habits.
Maybe you can relate to this crippling problem I've had my whole life. It's that feeling of knowing exactly what you need to do but not being able to do it. No matter how high the stakes are. ("Yeah...this paper is worth 33 percent of my grade...but..meh...I'm still going to wait until the night before.")
It's the frustration of being unable to control your own focus for long enough to complete the things that really matter to you -- and instead, wasting your time on trivial BS. "You have to learn how to use your time better. Get productive!"
If only it were that simple. Being productive is simply what it sounds like: Producing something new.
That's it. Seriously. Read it again.
Therefore, to be productive, you have to produce something NEW. It doesn't matter how or when. You might spend years attempting to produce something and still have nothing to SHOW for your time.
You try to start a business. You come up with a few ideas, but don't test anything. You never end up starting it.
You lose weight, but lose focus and gain it all back.
You begin a new hobby, but get frustrated when you reach a plateau and quit. Do you see what's going on here?
In all three of these scenarios, you were busy "doing stuff" -- maybe you were even efficient with your time while doing it -- but there was a net gain of zero. No business. No weight lost. No new hobby.
Look, I've read every Lifehacker story on productivity...I've tried every Buzzfeed to-do list...I've got more wearables and downloaded more apps than I'd like to admit. None of these helped me produce a damn thing. If anything, they distract me into thinking I'm doing something.
If all these things AREN'T the solution to becoming more productive, then what can actually help?
Let me take you back to that fateful morning from a few weeks ago....
I was somewhere in the middle of making fart jokes with Maneesh and proactively forgetting about my 2,000 word count responsibility for the day when Adam texted me:
I have a writing coach. Not an editor (the publisher provides that). A coach. Let me be totally clear about that: I pay someone to coach me, every freaking day, to make sure that I stay on track and hit my writing objectives.
Now, this might sound unusual to some of you...the obvious question would be: "Why would someone who has written hundreds of blog posts that have reached millions of eyeballs across the world, who has a six-figure book deal, and who has been paid for copywriting, hire someone else to train him on writing?"
From the outside, it seems backwards but you're looking at the equation in the wrong direction. I pay someone I trust to tell me what to do and make sure I actually do it (and properly). That's the secret reason I'm "successful."
Not very "secret" - is it? I think everyone needs a coach. They make you better. Period. This goes in any area of life: business, writing, hobbies, relationships, time management, you name it.
No matter the industry or category, active mentors have a way of bringing the BEST out of you and taking you to the next level.
Successful people in all fields have coaches, and typically go on to lay their success on the fact they have a coach. Don't believe me? My good friend John Romaniello -- a celebrity fitness coach, NYT best selling author and practically Hercules reincarnate-- wrote an in-depth article on how he has his own fitness trainer.
Hell, even Tony Robbins has a coach!
As soon as I got the text from Adam -- I recently hired him to help me get a move on -- I shuttered in fear for one split second but then IMMEDIATELY snapped into focus. I threw my phone on the couch and turned the Internet signal "off" and started typing. I didn't care if it made sense, I only cared that I was DOING it.
Look, I KNOW...one of the biggest struggles we millennials face is wading through the information/stimulation overload to figure out what we should be doing with our time. Have you ever thought about hiring a coach to hold you accountable on a daily basis?
No matter your goal, there's an awesome coaching company to help you get there. Here are a few examples I've personally had crazy success with:
Coach.Me is personal coaching made to train just about any habit you can think of. They also have an executive business and writing arm that I'm using right now to finish off my book!
EvolutionEat is for those looking to master their diet and lose weight with 1:1 personal nutrition coaching.
Roman Fitness Systems is personal online coaching for those looking to get shredded at the gym.
No matter how you're feeling, or what you've got going on, or how attractive "Netflix and chill" sounds....a coach is going to make sure you FOLLOW THROUGH.
That's his or her job.
Now do yours and decide to invest in yourself and start living the life you were made to live.