Your Productivity B-Roll

scenario A is for the A Roll:
good morning sweetie pie! the bed hit different last night. you skip to the kitchen for some coffee. “today i’m gonna leave my wife, get a 6-pack, start my company, and finally get that boat…”

scenario B is for the B Roll:
BLEEEP goes the f-ing alarm. what’s the point of life? will anyone care if i miss the conference call? no clean underwear. can’t believe i agreed to meet that person for lunch.

we can’t control when we’re having a good day. even if we could, sometimes a good day turns into a bad day. but we can control how we react to the type of day we’re having.

introducing the B Roll

it’s just a film analogy. take documentaries specifically.

your A roll is the subject matter; a talking heads interview, for example. your B roll is everything else. drone shots of a skyline, a pan across the interviewee’s living room.

in life we also have an A Roll and B Roll.

  • A Roll: raise a kid
  • B roll: change his diaper

for a few weeks i’ve been experimenting with hyper-cognizance of my energy level in order to “switch” from A- to B-Roll activities when it fades.

following are turn-your-gears gears in case you want to give it a shot. while these are specific to me, i think breaking them up by prerequisite motivation is a useful outline for anyone.

0/10 motivation

sometimes you just wanna blow your brains out. instead, give yourself permission to not even try to be productive. turn on your favorite Netflix series, browse YouTube, or get a Thai massage.

most of us do this stuff backwards… we tune into Netflix based on the time of day, e.g. after dinner, when we ought to relax as a function of our energy levels. sometimes i get my best ideas — and the juice to implement them — at 10p.

since you’re going to watch the show or play Call of Duty anyway, technically you are being productive. you’re freeing up evenings and weekends for real work. (if not productive, at least efficient)

1/10 motivation

introducing Ryan’s “middle finger to the world.” a few of my favorite formats:

  • unsubscribing from newsletters (including ones i actually read)
  • dark chocolate
  • archiving emails from fanboys (sadly no fangirls)
  • deleting stale todos from my task list
  • playing guitar
  • unfollowing people on Twitter
  • cursing

sticking a middle finger to the world clears your head. it also increases your motivation, as a clear head affords the cognitive capacity to think bigger. 

Dan Heath’s new book Upstream describes this as “Tunneling.” when we’re worried about inconsequential stuff we are incapable of thinking big picture. so get the small crap out of that noggin.

2/10 motivation

you have to tread carefully here but i like sending short replies to long emails. haha. sue me.

you can also talk to someone.

no, not a therapist. any stranger will do. i like to mess around on HelloTalk, a mobile app for language learning. i might post an English tip, get corrections on my Korean “dad jokes” (아재개그), whatever. i currently do this a few times /day.

3/10 motivation

clean your desk. then your room. then your entire apartment. but don’t just move stuff around. throw it away. i’ve gotten in trouble more than once for throwing away other peoples’ crap. it’s great.

4/10 motivation

these tactics may be a 4/10 or a 7/10 depending on your personality:

  • visit a cafe, order something, and stare out the window (no tech)
  • go for a run
  • lift weights

yesterday i hit a slump after finishing my vocabulary studies, so i ran around Seoul without a shirt on. i got lost. i was spitting everywhere because i was dehydrated.

everyone stared at me because of the no-shirt thing. then i went home, showered, and confirmed my cultural difference suspicion on HelloTalk. shortly thereafter i felt like 100 bucks. (or should i say: won)

5/10 motivation 

write something. don’t make it complicated, just use Apple Notes.

a few prompts… 3 things that would make my life better right now; a tweet about Trump (for or against), a surprise text to a good friend. 

(i’ve never done the last one but it reads like something humans will appreciate.)

6/10 motivation

explore a new hobby that you don’t even have. 

one time i was bored out of my mind in a tiny Japanese hotel room so i went full retard on AirSoft. i watched YouTube videos, compared pricing for different shrapnel grenades, researched air cartridges, and found venues that host tournaments.

i never acted on any of this information, but now i understand how some grown ass men spend their Saturdays. i also forgot about my sh*tty environment for a couple hours.

(aka, you don’t need drugs to escape reality. drugs are for losers)

7/10 motivation

scan your todos and pick whichever one will take the least amount of time to accomplish.

maybe it’s a single email, cracking open + editing a Google Doc, or firing someone. (let’s be honest it takes 2-5 mins to tell someone to take a hike).

personally i sometimes forget to take a dump, so including that too for whoever needs to hear it.

8/10 motivation

we’re almost in the clear. 

if it’s not obvious yet, executing something at each level will bump you 1-2 more. so if your day started like crap but you watched an episode of Better Call Saul, hung out at a cafe, then read the wiki page for Sovereign Citizens, you’re back in action by lunch.

in my best week+ long sprints i hover between the 8-10 level of energy. i know this because when the day is over, the whole thing feels like a blur of winning.

here are some activities for 8/10 energy:

  • hit inbox zero on 2+ inboxes
  • write 1-page marketing strategy docs (dream big)
  • clean up Trello boards (see: delete button)
  • assign new tasks (with documentation) to my personal assistant
  • cherish being a “little hungry”

for real: a healthy dose of physical hunger rhymes with mental clarity.

9/10 motivation

tasks in this zone look a lot like your A-Roll projects with just one difference: you don’t feel like you’re in flow state while doing them.

the best content i’ve read on achieving flow state is Newport’s Deep Work, so i won’t go into it here. but as Pressfield (another author) says (i’m paraphrasing), “professionals do not wait for the muse to strike… they know that once they put their butt in the chair, the muse will come.

if you can do Good Work despite not feeling 100% up to it, you win. this is basically the story of my life.

the secret behind peak motivation

here goes: there is no 10/10 level. that’s just a movie. and it’s called Limitless.

if you wait for the perfect moment to do something great, you never will. because life sucks like that, she always makes you work for it.

i hope this helps. i’m going to walk home now. it’s 3am.