Showing posts by andhedrew

Four things I do to keep me in line [video]

Every week, my brother and I record vlogs to each other, under the name Doubtful Solutions Brothers. Our vimeo profile is here, our website is here. The videos don’t always pertain to this blog, but when they do, I’ll post them with added commentary.

In this video, I outline four things I do to make my habitual procrastination, laziness, and self-sabotage in line.

Instead of outlining every point that I made in this video, I’m going to give you two specific tasks that will help you be more productive. Choose one, and GO!


1. Head over to Beeminder and set up 1 commitment device for a future action. Make it something that you feel like you should do, but you have a low likelihood of follow through.


2. Decide on some temptation bundling you could do. Bind a tempting item or activity with a good habit, making sure that the temptation doesn’t cancel out the good habit (Only smoke when you’re at the gym? Really?). I would give you examples, but it’s better if you figure them out for yourself. :-)



Screenshot 2015-03-19 07.02.27

I’m not one of those slick, greasy successes showing other successes how to be more successful. When I read the blogs and books of people like that, it’s easy to come up with an excuse not to do amazing stuff, because my circumstances are different. They’re perfect. Their life is perfect, or pretty close. How can I be expected to do what they did when I’m so flawed, and they seem to be the ideal human being who has never faced a setback in their life?

I want to make it very clear with every blog post that I’ve screwed up way more than I’ve succeeded, and will continue to fail, in many, many ways.

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How to create your own personal college class

It’s common for many people to come out of college and stop learning. When no one is forcing you to learn and improve yourself, it’s easy to do nothing. Sonia and I recently realized that we’ve really slacked off in the learning category since college – we still read good books, but the focused, intentional learning has gone out the window.

We decided to change things by reorganizing our lives to look more like college – focused, limited, intentional blocks of learning.


Fear is two-faced

Fear tells you stories. Fear of action (procrastination), fear of failure (anxiety), fear of success (self-sabotage), they all speak countless lies into your ear, but they have problems keeping their stories straight.

Fear will often tell you two lies at once – one vary convincing lie, and another lie, also very convincing, but the exact opposite of what it told you just a minute before. Examples:

“I don’t know enough to succeed.” / “I don’t need to study, I need more natural talent.”

“You’ll never have enough time to write a book.” / “You’ve got so much time, you can afford to put it off.”

“They would be a huge help, but you’re not good enough to meet with them.” / “You don’t need them.”

“People with natural talent succeed, not me.” / “I can succeed on talent alone, no need to practice.”

“If it was really your passion, it wouldn’t feel like hard work.” / “You only succeed if you suffer a lot.”

“They succeeded because they knew someone.” / “I know someone, but I can’t ask them for help, because _____________.”

Yeah, fear will play ping-pong with your mind until you call it out – take note of the false, contradicting messages that you’re feeding yourself all the time, and work hard not to give in to the lies.




Embrace distraction, beat anxiety

“Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and do the work” – Chuck Close

…yeah, but buckling down and focusing on something for hours is tough, isn’t it? Often when I’m working on something that I really care about, I feel a deep anxiety that scares me away from the work. My solution has been to take the road of distraction – if my brain is slightly distracted by a movie or a radio show, I can usually work in peace, without the fear rising up and crushing out my attempt to create. I’ve been reading “Daily Rituals” by Mason Currey, which details the daily rituals of artists: all of the rituals are different, and a majority of them border on the insane. I felt better about my distraction routine when I read this quote, again by Chuck Close, speaking about his habit of watching television while he painted: “I like a certain amount of distraction. It keeps me from being anxious. It keeps things at a little bit more of an arm’s length.” Is distraction an optimal solution for every occupation/every artist? Of course not. Distraction doesn’t work for me when I’m writing. But if a routine or technique works for you, do it. Do whatever it takes to do your work.


Moving all of my piles of junk

Yup, I’m moving.

When you move, you realize how much junk you have – it’s incredible how much is accumulates.  I just talked to a guy a while ago who moved halfway across the country using the biggest u-haul available, and he still had to rent storage area in California to store a bunch of his crap.

This was seven years ago. He still hasn’t gone back for the rest of his stuff.

Having stuff is expensive, time-consuming, and at some level, your stuff starts to run your life.

So, think about it – how much of your life is spent organizing, dusting, moving, and maintaining your crap?

Are you OK with that?


You don’t need more time…

…you need to choose what to do and act.

You don’t need more money, you need more creativity and flexibility.

You don’t need advertisement, you need hustling.

You don’t need a better tool, you need to be a better artist.

You don’t need better circumstances, you need to have a better attitude about the circumstances.

Whatever’s holding you back probably isn’t.

The thing that you think is keeping you from your goal isn’t – but you think that it is. It’s the placebo effect: your belief that you’re helpless makes you helpless.


When was the last time you were excited?

really excited?

Like can’t-contain-it-heart-beating-stomach-fluttering excited?

If you can’t remember when it was that you were excited about something, it’s time to try something new. It’s time to push yourself a little and see what you can do. Try something that seems risky.

Here’s an assignment: e-mail someone you really admire, just to tell them how awesome they are. Even better: ask them a small favor, see how/if they respond.

Ask for something for free that isn’t for free.

Start something exciting, and share it with someone.

Step out, take the risk, and make art that connects with people.

It’s the best way I know to get excited about life again.


intermittent reinforcement and You

“Pigeons experimented on in a scientific study were more responsive to intermittent reinforcements, than positive reinforcements. In other words, pigeons were more prone to act when they only sometimes could get what they wanted.”  (Wikipedia)

…but you’re much more sophisticated, you’ve got a much more advanced brain, capable of reasoning – you don’t just reflexively press the bar for the occasional pellet.

Really? How many times have you checked your e-mail/Facebook/Twitter/texts today?



Just Choose

Go ahead, do as you please.

Watch hours of TV every night, until your eyes hurt.

Stay in the town where you went to high school, and keep partying with the same group of people you did in high school.

Get a unchallenging job, and stick with it for decades.

Get a house. Don’t get a house. Rent. Live in a cardboard box. It’s your choice – whatever you choose, you’ve got the right to choose that.

Bother to choose, though.

Most people don’t bother. It’s easier to just follow, to just keep doing what they’re doing because it’s comfortable, because the neighbors do it, because they’ve always done it that way.

I don’t care what you choose – as long as you bother to choose.