The only way to do anything

"Do nothing or write."

Neil Gaiman Reanimates the Norse Myths—and Loki, Once Again, Is the Most  Alluring Character | The New Yorker

I don’t really like to read or give productivity advice. I guess I am not that guy. But I do believe in hard work and discipline. Which is why I want to share the best productivity advice I’ve ever heard.

It comes not from a blogger, not from a productivity blogger, not even from an entrepreneur.

It comes from the bestselling author, Neil Gaiman.

In an interview with Tim Ferriss, when Tim asked Neil how the latter gets his work done, Neil replied, “I just sit down, stare at the wall and tell myself I can do nothing or write.”


So far, I have not found a better way to discipline myself than to allocate two hours – it doesn’t matter whether it’s at 5 AM or 5 PM – put on my phone timer and tell myself, “Ok dude. You’ve got two hours. And you have two options: you can either write something, or you can stare at the screen. Nothing else is permitted. Choose wisely.”

It’s how I get anything done.

I usually stare at the wall for a few minutes and when that gets boring, I get to the Actual Thing. (More on what that means later.)

The beauty of this method is that it gives you a choice. And a definite time frame. So you don't feel like you’re in a prison – or that you have unlimited stretches of time ahead of you to work. It makes you laser-focused on the task at hand.

P.S. This works equally well when you have to do something that’s unpleasant. Just give yourself 30 minutes on a timer and try to do it within that time frame. Work will take as much time as you give it. Use this rule to your advantage.



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