Get Things Done by Following the Compound Effect Principles

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Slow and steady wins the race

You can become good in any given field if you give it enough time. It doesn’t require a lot of focused, undistracted hours per day to accomplish what you want and for sure you don’t need to stop doing the things that you like to do to start new ones. You can start a new business, book, hobby, whatever by applying the principles described in this article. All you require is to put a few focused minutes exclusively to a given activity towards a goal.

The Compound Effect

Small, Smart Choices + Consistency + Time = RADICAL DIFFERENCE

Over a long period of time, even seemingly small actions can make a huge difference. It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to improve:

  • Want to play guitar? Practice 15 minutes per day.
  • Want to read a book? Read 15 minutes per day.
  • Want to write a book? Write 15 minutes per day.
  • Want to do good on a test? Study 15 minutes per day.
  • Want to start a business? Work on it 15 minutes per day.

Once you start consistently on a given goal, dedicating more time to it is easy because you already did the hardest part: START. Don’t be like SpongeBob in his classic chapter “SpongeBob Writes an Essay” "where he spends a lot of time procrastinating doing unnecessary tasks when he should be writing an essay. Hours after supposedly starting, he ended up with this:

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Don’t be like SpongeBob

The Compound Effect by
Darren Hardy

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The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy is about how small actions lead to huge results when applied consistently:

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Daily Consistency = Massive Results

There are certain concepts that you need to understand to start applying the compound effect today: choices, habits, momentum, influences, and acceleration.

Choices

“Everything in your life exists because you first made a choice about something.”

Choices shape your life. When you make a big or small choice (not choosing is a choice, too), your life takes a different path. Choices are everywhere:

  • Should I buy this?
  • Should I start learning X?
  • Should I start doing Y?

A choice can be your best or your worst enemy so we should be aware of them. If you decide to invest X time on learning something, it can end up being very useful and a leap in your career, or can end up being a waste of time.

Habits

“Each choice starts a behavior that over time becomes a habit.”

Habits are great, they can help you do tasks without even thinking about them! In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg talks about how habits work in a 3 step loop:

  • Cue: what triggers the habit.
  • Routine: automatic behavior triggered by the cue.
  • Reward: what you earn by finishing the routine.

In Atomic Habits, James Clear presents a comprehensive guide to stick to good habits and get rid of bad ones and “get 1% better every day”.

The most amazing thing about a habit is that they are automatic. Basically you do them in autopilot!

Momentum

You can’t see or feel Mo, but you know when you’ve got it.

I think Darren Hardy explain momentum the best:

Ever wonder why successful people tend to get more successful… the rich get richer… the happy get happier… the lucky get luckier?

They’ve got Mo. When it rains, it pours.

Build momentum is hard, but once you get it, it’s hard to not follow it!

Be aware: momentum can be good, but also can lead to bad results. Remember: everything is under the compound effect!

Influences

  • Input: information that you read.
  • Associations: the people that you spend your time with influence you.
  • Environment: your surroundings (places, people, etc) should create a positive environment to support and motivate you towards your success and remove everything that doesn’t.

Acceleration

If you’re weight training and you aim for 20 repetitions of a given weight per day, the first day you will do the 20 repetitions and won’t be able to do more. The next day, the same. But, even if you don’t know it, there will be a day when you will be able to do 21 repetitions, you just need to push a bit more your expectations.

Acceleration is all about beat the expectations. Doing more than what you’re expected to do. Darren calls the moment when you think you’ve reached your maximum “the wall”, and is at this moment when you should strive for just a bit more.

Atomic Habits

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Atomic Habits by James Clear

In his famous book, James Clear presents a way to build good habits and break bad ones. James explains that we “overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis.”

A great example of how results improving 1% a day for a year affects the results you get:

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1% improvement and decline per day and it’s long term effects.

It’s common to see people starting a new habit, and once they get some time working on it without tangible results they just give up instead of continuing towards a goal. I think this is better explained in “Atomic Habits”:

“People make a few small changes, fail to see a tangible result, and decide to stop. You think, “I’ve been running every day for a month, so why can’t I see any change in my body?” Once this kind of thinking takes over, it’s easy to let good habits fall by the wayside. But in order to make a meaningful difference, habits need to persist long enough to break through this plateau — what I call the Plateau of Latent Potential.”

To form a habit, you must make it obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying.

  1. Make it obvious: make easier to follow your habit. If you want to eat more fruit, put it in the fridge in such a way that it is easier to grab it than grab something else.
  2. Make it attractive: If you plan to eat more fruit, start with the one you like the most.
  3. Make it easy: remove friction. For example, start with fruits that are easy to eat and don’t require extra work.
  4. Make it satisfying: if you like the fruit that you chose, you’ll love to eat it and you will be eating healthy food at the same time!

Take it easy

I’d like to emphasize that you don’t need to be strict about this. It is not necessary to work every day nor a strict schedule. It is okay to skip a day. You can work a few minutes per day during weekdays and that will be ok too. Do what works most for you. The idea is to work on your goals without burnout, so take it easy! :-)

Conclusion

The compound effect is a very powerful concept. You can work in small steps regularly towards a given goal and the results of your work will compound over time into huge results.

There are different techniques on the internet and books that you can follow to make it easier to start a new habit so compound your work becomes easier and effortless. Once you build a habit, making progress becomes automatic.

Self Promotion

You can follow me on Twitter where I regularly publish thoughts and opinions like this!

Written by

Frontend Developer 👨‍💻 Follow me on Twitter 🐦 https://twitter.com/giovannibenussi

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