Get in the Lab (3/3)

This is the final post in a set of 3 posts on how we can take small steps consistently. Today, I want to talk about getting “in the lab”, which I’d define as embracing a mindset of experimentation.

The phrase “get in the lab” comes from one of my favorite YouTube channels by basketball trainer, Devin Williams. He uses it to teach his players the right response to adversity and failure—don’t give up. Learn, practice, and problem solve.

The same should apply to our productivity. We will struggle and fail, but our response should be to get in the lab.

Why We Need to Get in the Lab

#1: Getting in the lab promotes a “growth mindset” over a “fixed mindset.”

Those with fixed mindsets views themselves as having set or “fixed” characteristics. For these people, failure reinforces their belief that they can’t change. Because of that, they have a hard time pursuing or improving in areas which don’t come naturally to them.

Those with growth mindsets believe it’s possible to grow through consistency, diligence, and hard work. Failure is difficult, but it also presents an opportunity to learn. Individuals with growth mindsets have a more hopeful view of change.

For most of my life, I’ve struggled with having a fixed mindset. I tend to stay in my comfort zone and shy away from areas I don’t feel confident in. Getting “in the lab” is my way of trying to develop more of a growth mindset.

#2: Getting in the lab allows you to adjust for your specific situation and struggles

Even if you had the best productivity advice on the planet, you’re not going to be productive on your first try. Why not? Because no one knows your particular struggles with productivity except you. It’s up to you to test various strategies and tinker with them to fit your specific needs.


Some Strategies Going Forward

Commit to a Strategy –

Do some initial research and reflection, and settle on a strategy that makes sense to you. Brainstorm and plan for potential obstacles as much as possible. Then, jump in and get started.

Observe Patterns of Failure –

As part of your initial strategy, build in mechanisms into your task-management system that allow you to consistently review your progress. As you track how you’re doing, observe patterns of failure—for example, excuses you use to neglect a habit or distractions which cause you to procrastinate.

Experiment with Adjustments –

As you observe these patterns of failure, brainstorm adjustments that will help you the next time you encounter that particular difficulty. Implement it and repeat the cycle from the beginning.

Learn to Enjoy the Process –

Doing this over and over again is how we grow in productivity over time. It’s slow progress and it can be difficult to see repeated cycles of failure. But, as we become comfortable “in the lab”, we will begin to enjoy the process of steady, incremental improvement.


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