We like games. Video games, board games, cell phone games, creative games, and unfortunately relationship games. There’s a really popular mental game we play with ourselves, too. It goes something like this: let’s see how much we can put off in the shortest amount of time. And then let’s follow it up immediately with seeing how mad we can get for pulling off such a feat. Congrats, you just pulled off the opposite of No Zero Days.
It starts with a task list. Then distractions. Then we get distracted. The task list’s still there, unfazed. Anger sets in.
Except this isn’t mouthwash we’re talking about here. This is your livelihood. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t seem to faze us until we’re slapped with a dose of “you did nothing today you useless bag of potatoes”.
Zero days, as they’re infamously known, are your biggest problem. That’s my scientific take. They’re your biggest problem because it’s the easiest thing to fall victim to. All you have to do is… well, nothing. And voila, you’ve become a victim to it.
There’s an easy way out of this dark rabbit hole though.
If you want the simple answer, it really is as easy as this: do something towards your goals every day. If you can manage to follow this simple step, zero days will be a thing of the past.
If you’re still trying to figure out if you partake in Zero Days, let me explain it a bit more for you.
What is a Zero Day?
8 AM Saturday morning rolls around and just out of bed. You take a nice hot shower, prepare your cup of coffee, sit down, and open up your planner. You’ve got four things you need to do. Sounds easy enough, to be honest. Two of them are bullshit activities like calling your insurance company and running a random errand.
The other two are a little less bullshitty — one involves sitting down and writing for this novel you want to publish, and the other involves doing some research on this investment opportunity you want to throw some money towards.
The coffee is hot and steaming, the sun is just peeking out, and you’ve got the whole day to tackle it.
Now, fast forward the day, and imagine it’s 8 PM; the coffee is long gone and so is the sun.
Let’s start with the bullshit activities:
- You didn’t call your insurance company. Ok, that’s excusable — after all, it’s Saturday. They’re obviously closed. Something about business hours, yada yada yada.
- You didn’t run the errand. Ok, somewhat excusable — it’s nothing really important, you just needed to run to Target and pick up a few random things. Your livelihood doesn’t depend on this one. No rush.
Now let’s move onto the less bullshitty activities:
- You didn’t write anything towards your novel. You really wanted to, but you didn’t.
- You didn’t research the investment opportunity. You told yourself no big deal, you have time and you didn’t feel like it today. Always tomorrow.
You had four things you wanted to tackle, and you have four things left at the end of the day. What did you fill your time with? The usual suspects come up: social media, TV, some online browsing and/or shopping, cleaning your place, literally just sitting there, and more.
It’s as if you purposely wanted to do everything but your task list. Wait though; that’s not far from the truth. You actively avoided your to-dos.
And there, ladies and gentlemen, is your Zero Day.
You may have filled your time doing things, and things which aren’t inherently bad (such as cleaning your place), but those crucial couple to-do’s you had, like writing your novel and researching the investment opportunity, fell flat.
Now let me drop this bit on you — you want to become a full-time writer because you hate your current career, and you’re hoping to fund it through some of your investments, including the one you failed to research.
What changed here? Nothing. There goes a Zero Day. Where does the name even come from? Well, it all started with a post on Reddit about avoiding zero days, to be honest.
How To Avoid Zero Days
As I promised earlier, it’s really not hard to avoid them.
Your only goal, on a daily basis, is simple — you do something, no matter how small, which has you walking toward your vision of life. In other words, your goals. Your dreams.
There’s only one small step which trips up a lot of people, and is the reason most of you consistently have Zero Days time and time again:
You fail to decide what you want out of life, and in turn you fail to define your goals.
If you don’t know what you want, how can you do something every day which propels you in the right direction? That’s not a trick question — the answer is you can’t. You’ll float around with your thumb up your ass, hoping for a miracle. So far that miracle hasn’t come, huh? Shocker.
If you can define what it is you’re looking for, and you feel you’re getting dangerously close to a Zero Day, the solution is as follows:
You do something from your list which aligns with your goals. I don’t care what it is, but you do something. I also don’t care how small that something is. Remember the example above? A written novel was one of those goals. Let’s say 10 PM hits, you’re about to jump in bed, and you haven’t done shit. What do you do? You write one sentence, at the least. Maybe you can eke out a paragraph, or even a page.
Let’s say it was one sentence. There, you avoided a Zero Day. It’s that fucking simple. Seriously.
Two very distinct things happen when you pull this off:
- You feel pretty damn good about yourself, because no matter how small, you stayed on track.
- You’re that much closer to your goal.
Voila, done. Yes, that easy. Not a trick.
Repeat after me: No Zero Days. They’re not allowed. Now go out and crush your goals.