We’ve all had times in our lives when we felt like losers. Nothing seemed to be going our way and hope was fading. There’s nothing unnatural or shameful about these feelings. The important thing is what you decide to do about them. There is a consistency among people who feel like or are losers, though – they don’t use their time well and as a result are stuck in the same place, not progressing toward their visions. Avoiding that is what we’ll talk about today. In a nutshell, the best way to stop being a loser is to avoid a 0% day.
Don’t have a vision? Try reading this.
What is a 0% Day?
As the name implies, a 0% day is where you make 0% progress toward the bigger things you want to do.
Those pounds you want to lose? You spend zero minutes on exercises – not even a 15 minute walk – or make any modifications to your diet (try one heavy in protein and fiber).
That new job you want? You spend zero minutes searching or acquiring the skills for it.
That book you wanted to write? You spend zero minutes actually writing or at least reading relevant books in your genre to get a better idea of how successful authors tell stories.
You get the idea.
Taking up MMA training was one of the things I started doing in this site’s long hiatus (you can see some of this on my Instagram – here’s a double leg takedown and takedown defense). Becoming a good fighter became an important part of my life vision. A 0% day for me on this front would be to do nothing to help make that happen. Yes, I can’t go to the gym every day, but I can spend 15 minutes shadow boxing or even watching how others fight to get a better vision of technique. A 0% day is where zero happens and I don’t become better at all.
If you look at losers, you’ll find that most days for them are 0% days. Is this you? More than I wanted to admit on a lot of things, it was me. Don’t feel bad. Keep reading.
It’s Not (Entirely) Your Fault
If you’ve been having a lot of 0% days and find yourself in the same place as a result, just remember that beating yourself up does nothing.
There are many distractions in the modern world, distractions designed to be addictive. Porn, social media, and video games permeate everything. They are omnipresent genies eagerly awaiting a rub of the lamp and when you rub it, you’ll find hours of your time wasted. Fortunately, I wrote a post on how to avoid or use less of these distractions a while ago. It will help you, but I realized it wasn’t quite enough.
I realized it wasn’t quite enough because I had a serious Twitter (or X?) problem, despite my encouragement to avoid it.
See, Twitter is great for promotions and yes, you can make some valuable contacts there. Unfortunately, it’s also a platform designed to encourage negativity. Negativity is what gets most rewarded there. You find yourself basking in the “likes” and “retweets” you get for being negative, and before you know it, hours waste away.
I finally told myself I needed to stop this. Now.
There’s only one way to stop or reduce destructive habits:
Be Ruthless With Your Time
You have to monitor how you’re using it and then be brutally honest with yourself about whether what you’re doing is actually the best use of the hours and minutes in your day. If you can’t affirmatively say that what you’re doing is the best use of your time at that moment, something needs to change.
The best way I’ve found to be ruthless with my time is laughingly simple. That’s why it works so well. Click this link and use the countdown option on the stopwatch. If you have a mobile app, that works too.
I now do most of my tasks by setting the stopwatch to 15 minute intervals. During the 15 minutes that the timer is counting down, I do not allow myself to pay attention to anything else but the task at hand.
15 minutes works so well because it doesn’t seem that long, so it’s an achievable benchmark. You won’t feel like you’re burning yourself out (in other words, your willpower won’t fail). Meanwhile, because you know the countdown timer is ticking down, your attention is fixed to the task at hand and not the world’s many high-tech siren songs.
This method has worked so well for me that I’m about halfway done with a novella or short-novel length story in my cyberpunk universe (titled Cool Eyes) that I started last month. For me, this is incredibly rapid progress.
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Think of the stopwatch intervals as sets in the gym. You do the set for 15 minutes and then you get to take a deserved rest for a bit before you get back to it. Make a benchmark of however long in the day you want to set aside for a particular project.
For example, I try to devote 30 minutes to an hour a day on working on a particular story in my shared cyberpunk universe.
With Cool Eyes, I devote an hour a day – four 15-minute sets. I try to do the same to finally get The Fall of the Fated Queen all squared for serialization.
I devoted several 15 minute sets, spread out over multiple days, to create this blog post, too.
Make a list (at least in your head) of all the tasks you want to accomplish in the day and how long you want to work on them. Then use your stopwatch for 15-minute sets and tick them off one by one. DON’T start a new task until you finish the previous one. Focus on one thing at a time only. Humans cannot multitask.
As you can see, this is a system, not a goal. It is a set of behaviors that helps to advance you toward your goals and visions.
Importantly, this system also leaves room for failure. The reality is you aren’t going to perfectly adhere to it every day and that’s OK. Life gets in the way, so can changes in mood. A system that doesn’t leave room for failure is one that will break entirely.
Remember that when you implement this, you’re aiming for progress, not perfection. I will quote Arnold Schwarzenegger (whose “Pump Club” emails I highly recommend): “don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress.”
People have a tendency to view things in black and white. If they can’t do it all, they give themselves an excuse to do nothing. You need to do the opposite. “Whatever you have to do, just find an excuse to win.”
I took this to mind when creating this system. The important thing is not to be perfect with following it to the letter every day. You should aim for it, and if you can make it, great! But the important thing is to make sure you’re not having a 0% day.
A 75%, 50%, or even 10% day will beat a 0% day every time. As surely as Nicky, Vinny, and Tony will beat the shit out of Todd, Kyle, and Tucker.
Over weeks, months, and years, those days will add up to progress.
It’s fine to take a cheat day every now and then, but once you you take a cheat day, you could soon take another one. That is what the accountability in this system seeks to avoid.
Try it out and let me know how it works for you.
For examples of men who made slow progress over many years, don’t forget to read my second book, Lives of the Luminaries.
And if you liked this post, think about hiring me.