The Battle of Improvisational Productivity


We’ve all had the sudden spark of a seemingly brilliant idea: the app that no one has developed, the YouTube channel no one has niched, the sudden profound quote to start you off on a book journey.

So, why haven’t you acted on that?

Like most people, you and I have been battling Improvisational Productivity.

Improvisational Productivity is something Daniel Gross mentioned on a Podcast “A Billion Dollar Idea”. This idea says that we get a great idea and we brainstorm and jot down notes and tell our friends but when it gets to the point of acting on that idea - most of the time nothing happens. How come?

Typically, no one acts on the seemingly brilliant idea that they had because the next step is actually on a to-do list and is classified as work and work is never fun.

The work could be writing the script for the video, designing the header, logo, and bio for the YouTube page, or learning the language needed to code that great app. Whatever it is, it requires deliberate effort and invested time and that stops people from executing the great idea.

So, how do we beat this?

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits and creative/system guru, talks about one simple idea in his book: “don’t miss twice.”

That is a profound thought, Mr. Clear.

When people are starting a new habit or trying to expand upon an old one they miss one day and beat themselves up. Instead, Clear tries to shift their perspective and shrugs off the missed day and says, “It’s fine. Whatever. Just don’t miss twice.”

People go to the gym to either gain muscle or lose weight. The best way to do either of those things is to stay consistent. It doesn’t matter how long they go for or the intensity of the workout, if they go everyday for a year - they will see results.

The same can be applied to any other long term goal.

I call myself a film maker and am trying to get my YouTube channel off the ground. It’s a lot more work than I thought. There are a lot of steps to take to produce one single video and I have developed a system I call “The One Day” to help me stay consistent to make sure I never miss twice.

First, I write down everything that needs to happen before a video can be published. Typically, that includes:

  • Draft a big idea
  • Write a script
  • Film A-Roll (talking head/interview)
  • Film B-Roll
  • Set-Up new Premiere Project
  • Import Footage & Audio
  • Search Epidemic Sound for new BG track
  • Edit A-Roll to cut awkward pauses/phrases
  • Edit B-Roll
  • Add BG track
  • Lower Volume
  • Color Grade A-Roll
  • Color Grade B-Roll
  • Add intro
  • Add outro
  • Add card screen
  • Export
  • Make Edits
  • Upload
  • Design Thumbnail
  • Write Description
  • Write Tags
  • Add links
  • Publish

Okay, if you actually read all of that, incredible. If not, that’s okay.

I try to do at least one thing each day and to never miss a day. If I do, to never miss twice. Although the list is long, a lot of the things I can do in one day like most of the uploading process.

This list helps me look at the videos in my queue and see what I still need to do. Therefore, if I have five-minutes to kill before a meeting or twenty minutes to kill at lunch, I can jot down some tags that might be helpful or think of a title. This helps me capitalize on my white space and ensures I’m always moving forward.

I keep this list on my phone in the most beautiful app ever called Notion. As long as I do at least one of these things/day I know I will continually be maintaining progress and defeating improvisational productivity.

So whatever it is you want to achieve, attain, or start - get every single step you have to do from start to finish and do one of those steps Every. Single. Day.

If you miss a day, never miss twice.

For a better understanding of this topic, read James Clear’s article Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day, But They Were Laying Bricks Every Hour.

Written by
Dalton Mabery