Preslav Mihaylov

Speaker, Software Engineer, Technical Trainer. Passionate about computer science, presentations and reading books

Category: Productivity

You can’t succeed by slacking off

Many times in our lives, we are presented with a choice of what route to take. One is the easy route, and the other is the hard one.

For example, I constantly get messages from people in Facebook, trying to convince me to join them in their quest for easy money through multi-level marketing.
They go on saying that they don’t want to be like those poor people destined to work hard all their lives and get nothing in the end.
It’s better to work smart and get to the final destination of being wealthy with a shortcut. That will take you several months, they say.

And then you have the option to grow in your career, advance your skills and become a master in your craft. And that will take great amount of effort, years of consistency and discipline and great endurance.

The first one sounds more preferable, right?

But I recently watched a movie, called “Big Fish”, which had a scene where the main character could choose to get to his destination via two routes – the easy one, which most people prefer, and the hard one, which no one dares to take.

What the character said was “The more difficult something became, the more rewarding it is in the end”.

But isn’t that just some empty talk which is not applicable to life?

In this article, I am going to share with you the lessons I have learnt concerning this issue and my experience with it.

Lessons from “The Richest Man in Babylon”

This article is inspired by one of the chapters found in this book, which I recently finished. The chapter is “The Luckiest man in Babylon”.

I advise you read the whole story, since it is very inspiring. In this article, I am going to tell you the main points in the story, which caught my attention and my takeaways from them.

In the story a wealthy camel trader, named Sharru Nada walks with his caravan towards Babylon.

On his way, he sees a group of old men working on a field, which he had seen 40 years ago, when he was traveling to Babylon.

But that time, he was a slave.

Back then, he wished he had been like them, but now, he is a wealthy man and they are still working in the same field.

While traveling to Babylon as a slave, he was chained with three other people. One of them noted that these farmers were smart, because they weren’t putting too much effort in their work. That way, they can preserve their backs. He went on to say that once he starts working as a slave in Babylon, he would be the one carrying the water bag or some other easy job.

But one of the other slaves was a peasant, who stated that these people weren’t smart for not working hard enough. He advised Sharru to work as hard as he can because “work well done does good to the man who does it. It makes him a better man”.

Later on in the story, the peasant and the main characters were bought by wealthy people in Babylon, because they had shown their willingness to work hard.

The other two slaves, however, were sent to work on the Babylon walls, where the work was the hardest and there were overseers beating them with whips.

And eventually, Sharru was able to buy his freedom through hard work, while the ones who wanted to slack off ended up with a much worse faith.

I loved this story. This was one of the best short stories I read in a book.

The thing that triggered me the most is the idea that “work well done does good to the man who does it.”

This is something I hadn’t thought about before. If you are able to put a 100% of yourself in an endeavor, you will have a much more fulfilling experience.

Even if you work for someone else, the gains in discipline, character and consistency are far more rewarding than the outcome from the work itself.

My experience with slacking off

I had once also slacked off in my job as a developer. I was focused on my own goals rather than on giving my best for the company I worked for.

And by doing that, I wasn’t feeling satisfied with my work. I considered work as merely a source of income.

But at one point, I felt inspired by a colleague at work.

He was a person that gave 100% of himself for his job.

His goals aligned greatly with the company’s goals and he gave all he could to achieve it.

And this person was highly respected in our team and outside of it. He was a man who had achieved a lot in his career at a very young age.

But he didn’t get there because he had a lot of knowledge or expertise in programming.
His enthusiasm and willingness to work hard were the root cause of his success.

I realized that when you work hard, your character grows and you earn the respect of the people around you. And as a side effect, you advance in your career.

That is how I decided to commit to my job.

And once I started working hard and caring for the results of the company as much as I cared for my own, did I start feeling satisfaction from my job.

From now on, I considered me and the company I worked for business partners, rather than employer paying the employee to do his job.

That doesn’t mean I have abandoned my own goals. I still continue pursuing them and I still use my spare time to advance my out-of-office knowledge and skills.

But in those 8 hours, while at work, I am 100% committed to doing the best I can in my job.

And that reminds me that there is one big misunderstanding about working hard.

It’s not about how much time you dedicate

When people talk about working hard, most of the time, they refer to dedicating more time.

For example, If I tell someone that he should study programming harder, he automatically assumes that he should spend more hours doing it.

If your girlfriend says you aren’t committed enough to her, you would normally think about spending more time with her.

And spending more time usually does help. But what is even more important is how you spend that time.

I believe that two people with equal capacity can bring very different results in their job in the 8 hours they spend there.

It is one thing to be strongly focused and strive to be as productive as possible. And another to toggle your Facebook tab every 10 minutes.

So committing to something or someone means to be 100% there in the time frame you have allocated. It may be 5 minutes or it may be 2 hours. It doesn’t matter.

But in that time frame, you shouldn’t think about what you are going to eat tonight or what programming course you are going to study.

You dedicate 100% of your attention to the task at hand and don’t think about anything else. That way, you achieve full commitment.

Take it this way.

If you go to the fitness for 30 minutes, in that time you can either walk on the treadmill or work your ass off as much as you can.

In both cases, you have spent 30 minutes of work. But in the latter case, the results you will produce are far greater.

I believe that if you approach every situation in life like that 30 minute workout, you will have a much more fulfilling life and relationships.


In life, people constantly present you the easy routes you can take to success. Always take the hard ones.

Remember the saying from “Big Fish”:

“The more difficult a route is, the more rewarding it is in the end.

Also, remember that it is not about how much time you spend. It is about the commitment you make in that time.

And the greatest gain from doing all this is not the work done.

It is the honorable person you grow to become.

The Productive Developer @ WordCamp Sofia 2017

After spending one great weekend at WordCamp Sofia 2017, I feel energized from all the great people I met there and all the awesome talks I saw.

It was a great event. WordPress people sure know how to make a conference. What also caught my attention was the professionalism of the speakers there.

Despite being a community event, most of the speakers had very professional slides and presented pretty well. On most of the events I go, I see those “Death by PowerPoint” presentations and I feel like that’s just how things are.

But at this event, I saw the tendency of many speakers getting literate in terms of their presentation design. They really put a lot of effort in their slides and presentations.  I even saw some things which were helpful for me as well and helped me improve my presentations!

It was a great conference. If you want to check out all the awesome talks from WordCamp Sofia 2017, visit this playlist.

My talk was less WordPress driven, but even so I believe it can be of great use to anyone who cares about being as great of a developer as he can get.

My talk is about Productivity. About the mindset behind being disciplined and performing in your work and using the right tools to help you achieve more.

It’s titled The Productive Developer.

The idea for this talk evolved through my blog and my original post with the same name.

So, if you care about advancing yourself and your career, give it a look:

The process of achieving a meaningful goal

Some time ago, I told you my story of becoming a better player in League of Legends. There was some kind of flaw in my skills and I decided to change that. So I started watching some YouTube videos about becoming a better LoL player.

But the key to mastering that game was not in studying all sorts of fancy game mechanics or memorizing the items to buy for each hero. It was in adopting a mindset of always blaming yourself instead of your team for the mistakes you all make. That helped me skyrocket my overall gameplay and after a while, I was able to climb the ranked ladder of the game and I moved from the weakest division to being among the top 5% of the players in my server.

This achievement was quite improbable at first. So since then I had been wondering – how could adopting such a philosophy make me a better player in the game? Why didn’t all the mechanics I had watched help me, but instead it was this simple thought of always blaming yourself that released the handle of my potential?

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Keeping yourself organized in today’s world

Somewhere around the start of the school year, we had to prepare our student books. We had to get some signatures, some photos and getting all the needed data on it. I was always the last one to do that. One particular year, my class teacher gave me my students book, after the head teacher had signed it, and said: “Don’t lose it this time”.

“Of course I won’t” I said confidently and went back to my desk. One week later, a man came to school and said he had found a lost students book. The teacher wasn’t surprised when he found out it was mine. The funny thing is that only when I received it did I realize I had lost it in the first place.

As time passed, I finished school, learned new things and advanced myself greatly. But one thing did not change – my carelessness.

But now, I ought to be more responsible if I am to be taken seriously as a professional. That is why,  I have discovered a framework which has helped me transition from a careless boy to a responsible person.

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The productive developer

When I started my first job, I was really excited as I realized that this is the point at which I start programming professionally. But once I got to actual work, there was some kind of flaw in my performance. I was trying to do my tasks from the moment I came until I finished. But while doing so, I constantly distracted myself with social media. And when I got assigned a huge task, I felt overwhelmed and it was extremely hard to even start doing it, just because I realize how much work I have to do in order to finish it. I just couldn’t keep myself productive.

But at one point, I realized that my approach was totally wrong.  Today, I will show you a system, which has become an extremely useful tool for me, that aids me at feeling satisfied with my work and delivering maximum output.

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