I like to consider myself a very productive person. I do a lot of writing, I make a good living running my own business and I maintain many open source projects. And yet, by outward appearances, I don’t seem to work particularly hard — yet I still manage to get a lot done, and I go to bed feeling satisfied every night and every morning, I wake up eager to attack the day. I’d like to share with you how I do it.
Image by Mark Rain.
So what’s the secret? Every day, to I simply force myself to do 3 things:
- Get paid.
- Get fit.
- Make something cool.
This is a lifestyle I’ve been trying to live for a few years now, but I hadn’t formalised it until after a conversation I had with my friend, the wonderful hacker extraordinaire Ben Gletizman, a super-productive person who operates under the same system. I ask all the best workers I know how they manage to do it, and his technique resonated particularly well with me.
Let me expand upon each of the points:
1. Get Paid
You don’t work, you don’t eat. You don’t grind, you don’t shine.
– Mike Jones, You Don’t Grind, You Don’t Shine
This one is fairly self-explanatory. Every week day, I make myself do something that pays my rent. This means talking to clients, writing code, managing contractors, and so on. For you, this may mean something similar, or just going to work.
However, money is not the primary drive in my life. It’s simply something that I require to do the other things that I like, like having a roof over my head and eating food. I try to optimise for time, which I consider to be vastly more valuable than money. I simply aim to earn enough to pay my bills and to have enough to save for when I want to go on travel adventures. (My current plan is to see the whole ‘Axis of Evil’. Been to North Korea — eying Iran next.)
Money is nice — it can be exchanged for goods and services. I don’t really need to tell you any more about this. Let’s move on.
2. Get Fit
For those of us who live in front of computers, it’s very easy to let our bodies decay. We sit for many hours in the same position, eating greasy food and pounding sugary drinks. Not good! Programmers, office workers, and so on are typically not fit people, and this is a stereotype I think we should really be fighting against. Not only just so we look better, or because it’s healthier, but because a fit hacker is a good hacker!
When you exercise routinely, your mind benefits from it as well! I think it boils down to a matter of confidence. When you’re confident with your body, that confidence spills over onto your problem-solving ability. You’re more likely to think “Hell yeah, I can do that.” And, bonus, you’ll have the energy to actually do it.
A gym membership is a must, as simply paying for one is actually a good motivation to go and use it. I try lift weights 3 times a week and do something aerobic (skateboarding or jogging) on the days in between. Whatever you do is up to you, but I’d strongly suggest strength-training, either with weights or your own body-weight as part of a cross-fit program. Take it with a grain of salt, but I particularly enjoyed The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferris (full disclosure, I’m a total Tim Ferris fanboy). The main take-away is simple this: combine regular strength training with a high-protein, low-carb diet and you’ll be firing on all cylinders in less than two weeks.
3. Make Something Cool
This is the fun bit! Every day, work on something that you want to see exist. This might mean a song, an experiment, an open-source project, a side-business, a game, a novel, an invention, or anything else that you think is worth your precious time. This should be something which is socially positive, something that will make the world just a little bit better by existing. You don’t have save all the starving children or cure cancer; even if you can make one person smile or solve a small problem for yourself or somebody else, you’re doing the right thing.
Just don’t waste your time making useless shovelware! You’re a hacker, and real hackers are artists. Act like one. Put some thought into what you do and build something that you can be proud of.
Don’t be a one of those guys who says “I want to.. .” The world has enough of those already. Be a guy who says “I made.. .” The world needs far more of those.
Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great, How Are You?
That’s really all there is to it! I can’t guarantee it’ll work for you, but I know damn well that it works for me.
Just try it! Tackle these three things every day (and I mean every day, I try to do this on weekends, too), for two weeks, and you’ll be richer, fitter, prouder and happier. Seriously!
Try it out and let me know how it goes! I’d love love love to hear anybody who has success with this system.
What’s your secret to success? Leave them in the comments below!
Rich Jones is a hacker, digital entrepreneur and radical transparency activist. He is the founder of Gun.io, a labour marketplace for top developers, and the lead developer of the OpenWatch Project, who produce mobile tools for recording the police.
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