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The Grain of Sand Approach to Productivity

Updated on August 31, 2017
Craypoe profile image

Bob Craypoe (also known as R. L. Crepeau) is a musician, writer, webmaster, 3D artist, and creator of the Punksters comic strip series.

Don't Be Depressed if Things Don't Happen Fast Enough

Image created by Bob Craypoe, also known as R.L. Crepeau
Image created by Bob Craypoe, also known as R.L. Crepeau

Doing Many Things at Once Divides Your Time

There are good number of activities I have been involved in over an extended period of time. I have been a musician for decades, I have been a web developer for over a decade, an internet article writer for a number of years and I have been doing an online comic strip for over two years now. I do a couple of other things here and there but you get the idea.

To put things simply, I do a few things and have been doing them all for a while. I have also been doing them all at the same time. So, it takes a while to achieve anything of significance when you have a limited amount of time to devote to various things. I could add up a number of accomplishments regarding the things I have just mentioned. Some may even sound impressive. But not one of those accomplishments happened quickly or overnight. They each took a great deal of time in order to be achieved. It’s also pretty hard when you are trying to do a lot of different things at the same time.

We Live in an Instant Age

We live in an age where everything has to happen right away. We put food in the microwave and yell "hurry up!", as we wait for the food to finish being cooked. Nothing seems to happen fast enough for our liking. The same is true regarding our various accomplishments. We want so much for success to happen quickly. Many people dream or fantasize about overnight success. But overnight success rarely happens. Often it takes years of effort to become successful or to achieve something of significance.

Because of the fact that we live in an instant age, where things have to happen quickly, people are often easily discouraged when things don’t happen fast enough for them. So, there is some truth to that saying “Patience is a virtue.” in many cases it is because without patience people often give up when they realize how hard it may be to accomplish certain things.

Limited Time

Many people don't really have what they would consider to be an adequate amount of time each day that they would like to be able to devote to pursuing their goals. They often have that dreaded day job. So when they get off at the end of the day from their day job, they may often go home and work on their dream. This could be someone who wants to eventually have their own business or want to be an entrepreneur of some type.

That's kind of where I have been at times in my life. I would be working the day job and get home at the end of the work day and work on my own personal goals. One was the creation of various websites or adding new content to my existing websites.

I currently have over 4,000 pages on the Internet on my various websites. This did not, in any way, happen overnight. Obviously that would be impossible. It accumulated over a good number of years. It's not like I woke up one morning and said to myself "I'm going to build a 4,000 page website today."

What I built was done over a decade. I did what I did using what I like to call the grain of sand approach. It's like creating a sand pile using one grain of sand at a time. You pick up a single grain of sand from one spot walk a few feet and drop it in place. Then you go back and get another grain of sand and do the same. You just repeat the process over and over again over a long period of time and you eventually have a large sand pile.

The Grain of Sand Approach Applied

Many of the things I did were done just a little bit at a time. It was sort of like making that sand pile using one grain of sand at a time. Sure, it didn't look like much at first. But after an extended period of time, it actually amounted to something.

I have looked at everything I have done with this mindset. I have been releasing my comic strips three times a week every week for a while now. As of now, I have over 330 that I have officially released. Now 330 is a nice number. But you have to remember that I only did three strips a week. Originally, when I first started it, I only did one a week. It wasn't until a couple of months after I started that I increased it to twice a week. Eventually I went up to three times a week. It took a while to get up to a total of 330. I am still creating them to this day, so the number will continue to increase.

As a musician, I was putting together a CD while working a day job where I was getting overtime. So I was working over 50 hours a week consistently for a while, on the day job. I had very little time to devote to my music. But I did just a little bit each day and was eventually able to release my own CD. Sure it took a while but those grains of sand add up over time.

About Discouragement

I know a lot of people become discouraged when they are not able to devote the time they would like towards their various goals. I felt that discouragement at times myself. But I just kept plugging way, a little at a time, working towards my various goals. Believe me, I can more than Identify with you regarding being discouraged. It's just that I didn't allow that discouragement to force me to give up.

Everyone faces discouragement at some point in their life. The key is to not allow that discouragement to interfere too much with our determination. We have to find ways of pressing on in spite of those moments of discouragement. It’s not easy and I won’t pretend that it is but if you really want to do something bad enough, that’s what needs to be done.

Looking Back on Things

It's amazing to me sometimes when I actually sit down and list, for my own amusement, my various accomplishments. I do this when I become discouraged about certain things that I think aren't happening quite as fast as I would like them to. I make that list and then I think of how long it took me to achieve all of the things I have just listed. I also think of how I could have never foreseen being able to do all of those things. But I did do all of those things. It just took a while to do so. And if I had allow the feelings of discouragement take over, I very well could have just given up.

So when you get discouraged, don't give up just because things seem to be taking too long. Most things can eventually be accomplish if you just give them some time. Some people may mock you for doing things for so long that don't seem to be yielding results. But, as an example, I had been working on my websites for a long period of time and had not been making any real money from them for years. Some people looked at me like I was some sort of idiot for doing all of that work "for nothing."

Eventually, I began to make money from my websites. Not just a little either. I have probably made about $70,000 (up to this point) from them just in advertising revenue alone. I was just doing a little bit at a time for a good number of years while making nothing from them. But those grains of sand add up and sometimes they lead to income. So maybe you could look at a grain of sand at a time as a penny at a time. Pennies can add up too, you know.

Slow Progress is Better Than No Progress

My point is that you should not be discouraged by slow progress. I like to think that slow progress is better than no progress. Besides, you can't always worry about what others may think. Maybe some people will think you are stupid to waste what little free time you have working on something that you are not making money from right away. Just move that one grain of sand at a time and you might even end up with more than just a pile of sand. Maybe you can even have a huge sand castle in the end. Then you could be the king or Queen of that castle and those that used to mock you will just be the local peasants. But remember that it all begins with just one grain of sand at a time.

© 2017 Bob Craypoe

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