Productivity Hack: Plateau Faster

Productivity Hack: Plateau Faster

Often we think of plateaus as bad places to be.

You plateau in your career and its a crisis.

You plateau in the gym and it means you have to change your entire approach.

Plateaus solve another problem: choosing the right mountain to climb.

Over the past year I’ve dabbled in coding, writing, giving talks, and client projects covering personality tests, systems architecture, satirical iOS apps, and growth hacking.

On the health side, I’ve toyed with Salsa dancing, Stronglifts, Crossfit, Rootless Root, yoga, and Egoscue.

This (lack of) focus breeds more (lack of) focus, as each discipline led to new paths. With so many paths, I filled my days with activity but made little progress anywhere.

Each day, just choosing the thing to do was a chore: should I pursue the thing most interesting right now, or instill some discipline?

Then I discovered the principle of the quick plateau.

When I couldn’t decide what to work on next, I looked for the thing with the shortest remaining distance to a plateau.

Should I work on the book I’ve had in a drafts folder for a year, or spend an afternoon publishing a book collecting the wisdom of others? 2,000 hours left on one, 4 hours left on the other: easy choice.

Should I tackle the JS web scraper where I don’t understand the components, or finish the iOS development course? 200 hours vs 20: easy choice.

Of course, sometimes you have a preferred plateau you want to reach, a mountain to climb. In that case its easy to choose.

But when you’re considering different paths and they feel equally interesting, take the shortest path to a plateau.