Seth Godin on Productivity
At the Seth Godin Live event in DC (about two weeks ago now), I asked Seth: “There are so many things to do that clamor for our attention and make it hard to focus on what we really want to do. How do we keep these things from setting the agenda and instead carve out the time to do work that matters?”
His answer was great. To slightly paraphrase, he said:
The issue is not “How do I find time to work on projects?” Rather, a Linchpin says, “I create projects that matter. How do I then carve out the time to work on the stuff they think is my real job?”
That is great advice. You’ll notice that this is simply another variation on the fundamental principle of time management: put first things first.
Do not fall into the trap of thinking that if you just get “all this other stuff” out of the way, then you’ll have the time and energy to focus on the most important (and thus, usually, most challenging) things you have to do. It does not work that way.
Instead, make working on the most important things — which Seth would define as emotional labor in projects that are worth doing and that you deeply care about — your primary work. Then, fit the other things in when you can.
One last thing: It’s not that the “other things” are always trivial or unimportant. Many of them (though not all) do need to be done. But the thing is that if you do them first, you’ll rarely get to the most important things. On the other hand, if you do the most important things first, you’ll find that you have the time you need left over for the other things.