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The Power of Clarity

Hey friends, Quick plug before we get into the meat - very excitingly, I'm speaking at the Teachable
The Power of Clarity
By Ali Abdaal • Issue #125 • View online
Hey friends,
Quick plug before we get into the meat - very excitingly, I’m speaking at the Teachable ’Share What You Know’ Summit (22-24th Sept), an online event about entrepreneurship + making money online. I’ll be joining the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk, Jay Shetty, Pat Flynn and a load of other cool people chatting about every aspect of online business. It’s $29 if you register before 13th Sept - if this sounds up your street, hopefully I’ll see you there :)
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In Getting Things Done, David Allen teaches us a simple 5-step system for… getting things done. It goes: (1) Capture, (2) Clarify, (3) Organise, (4) Reflect, (5) Engage.
This week I began to really appreciate that the secret to beating procrastination lies in the second step - Clarify.
Often, when we’re repeatedly procrastinating from doing something, it’s because we don’t have enough clarity about the thing.
We might write “Physiology Revision” or “Website Redesign” on our to-do list. But when it comes to sitting down to work, we see the list, and our brain says Nope!
It’s saying ‘nope’ because there’s just not enough clarity. What the hell does 'Physiology Revision’ mean? We’re unlikely to revise the entirety of the field in one sitting, but we write it on our todo lists as if we’re going to.
And when we see things like 'Website Redesign’, our brain conjures up the mountain of work that would involve, and we continue to procrastinate from it.
David Allen’s excellent advice is that we should break our to-do lists into Projects and Tasks. A Project is anything that requires more than one Task, and has some sort of (ideal or enforced) deadline for its completion.
“Physiology Revision” and “Website Redesign” are therefore Projects. And the Tasks within them might be “Do 20 practice questions on respiratory physiology” or “Plan website navigation”.
The point is that every Project should have a defined Next Action. And if we find ourselves procrastinating from a particular task repeatedly, often what we need is more clarity. Once we’ve broken the project down into smaller tasks, we realise that it’s not that bad and get cracking.
Or alternatively, we realise we’re still procrastinating from it, in which case we figure out what emotional response we have to the task that’s stopping us from doing it. But that’s a topic for another time.
Have a great week!
Ali

My Favourite Things This Week
1 - Book - I finished Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo this week, and immediately started on book 2. The audiobook is incredible, with a solid ensemble of stellar voice actors.
2 - Article - I really enjoyed this post about Avoiding Hustle Traps from the Boundless newsletter that Paul Millerd writes. Paul featured as a guest on our podcast a few weeks ago, and since that conversation I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship with work + hustle culture as a whole.
Quote of the Week
There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.
From The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Resurfaced using Readwise.
Tweet of the Week
Ali Abdaal
Next level productivity - watching @fortelabs courses on the @teachable iOS app + AirPods while playing uncharted on PlayStation concurrently. This is what enlightenment looks like friends
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Ali Abdaal

I’m Ali, a junior doctor, YouTuber and podcaster from Cambridge, UK. Every Sunday I write an email newsletter with some thoughts, life lessons and interesting articles I discovered on the internet that week.

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Ali Abdaal, Cambridge, UK.