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Park on a downhill slope

43F Google Group [Park on a downhill slope]

Jeffrey Windsor shares a great tip for making it easy to start work in the morning—by always leaving off at a point where it will be easy, intuitive, and interesting to pick things back up. Instead of grinding away until you're drained and out of enthusiasm, quit while you're on a roll.

Parking on a downhill slope is actually a practice which takes place when I end work the day before. Each day, when I wrap up whatever I’m doing, I jot down (on paper when I remember, otherwise I do it mentally with lesser effect) exactly where I need to start. And that is usually a question I’m still pondering/researching…

At first, the practice was disconcerting. I’d have a question to answer and then walk away, and I really wanted to sit back down and wrestle with the issue. I wanted closure. However, having a rich issue upon which to start makes starting so much easier, the discipline came easy…

Parking on a downhill slope eases the transition into work because you’re not starting your session with a dreaded task, but an interesting one. It’s easy to start your work. You want to start. Yes, you will still have to grade those papers (I have 120 of them waiting for me right now), but they’re what I do later, after I’ve completed more interesting stuff.

Similarly, I’ve heard that Hemingway advised writers to “leave some water in the well” by stopping in the middle of a paragraph or sentence.

That advice isn't just for writers and students, of course. It could go for virtually any kind of job, and certainly fits well with the Getting Things Done idea of the “next action.”

[Link encouragement via David McCormick]

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About Merlin

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Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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