This morning, my concentration was shit.
Perhaps it was just brain fog from watching too much Sunday Netflix. It could have been the gray weather or morning downpour. It was probably correlated to the buffalo chicken pizza I ate as hangover food. Whatever it was, I couldn’t string two thoughts together or type a sentence.
If you work for yourself, as many of you do, you know the endless guilt associated with day-to-day tasks. Although you are not chained to a desk, you feel compelled to abide by the same unwritten laws of the typical nine-to-five.
Therefore, you understand why I proceeded to stare at my computer without touching the keys for nearly two hours. Not because I was being productive, not because I was thinking a single coherent thought, but because it was 10AM and staring at a computer is simply what you’re supposed to do at 10 AM.
And that, my friends, is bullshit.
Once upon a time, we didn’t worry about the “correct” way of doing things—we just DID them.
When you were in college, how did you go about completing an assignment? Did you study, Google, and take notes between the hours of 9AM to 5PM because that is how we are supposed to study? Fuck no. You wrote that five-page paper as fast as humanly possible, shrunk the margins to 1.8” instead of 2” to transform four-and-a-half pages to five, and turned in that bad boy minutes before the deadline.
Translation: You worked to complete the assignment—and however long that happened to take you, that’s how long it took. Although your professors told you the “correct” way to study was to read the material prior to class, outline the lecture, and complete the assignment while it was all fresh in your mind—when did you actually do that?
You did not complete your homework the “right way.” You completed it your way. Your professor never knew how many hours went into your paper. All she could judge you on was the completed words on the page.
The results are what matters.
I think about this a lot while working out. For years—seventeen, in fact—I ran. That’s all I did for exercise. I never took more than one week off running from the time I was eleven to age twenty-seven, when a nagging injury finally made me kick off my ASICS and say, “I quit.”
Like most runners, not running meant one thing: Cross training. Ellipticals, stair masters, stationary bikes, and every other boring AF piece of equipment so mind-numbing you are forced to place a Post-it across the screen so you can’t see the time.
I used to strap myself to these modern-day torture devices for one-and-half to two hours. Because that’s just what you did when you couldn’t run.
By the grace of God, I haven’t touched a piece of cardio equipment since the last time I touched my running shoes. I go to a high-intensity gym just blocks from my apartment, where the workout consists of two rounds of four circuits—each lasting three minutes each.
Does it matter that I train for twenty-four minutes instead of ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY? No. It matters that I stay in shape.
The goal of cross-training is not to watch life go by on an elliptical—the goal is to decrease the downtime between being cleared by the doctor and your first competition.
It doesn’t matter how you get to a goal, it matters that you get there.
Which is what finally dawned on me this morning.
I gathered all my things, unplugged my laptop, closed my tabs in Chrome, and threw everything in my bag. I went upstairs to my apartment and dumped my belongings on my bed, changed into workout clothes, and did a quick 30-minute workout to clear my head.
It doesn’t matter how many hours I work in a day, it matters how much work I complete within those hours. Whatever I need to ensure productivity happens (working out included), is fair game.
Whatever you’re looking to accomplish, there are a million ways to go about it. Don’t feel guilty about the methods you chose, because how you get there doesn’t matter. A sales person could make 100 calls a day with absolutely nothing to show for it, or make three calls and set three appointments. Someone job searching could send out dozens of applications with absolutely no leads, or use their connections and land an interview in a few quick emails. And I could stare at my computer all morning and have nothing to show for it, go do a workout, and bust my ass that afternoon.
There is no right or wrong route—as long as you get to where you wanted to end up.