Getting less done

So you got a lot done this week? Good for you. But what exactly did you get done? Was it work you’ll remember next month? Was it work that’ll matter next year? Did you learn anything that’ll help you tomorrow?

High productivity doesn’t mean squat if the things you’re getting done aren’t truly important. It’s far better to get a few top things done, and done well, than to crush a mile-deep todo list of trivial bullshit.

But it can be hard to tell the difference when we constantly celebrate things like inbox zero. What about all the things that didn’t have an email or explicit todo attached? It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you’re on top of it all when all the app counts say zero.

Occasionally you need to waste time for a while to be able to spend it better later. If you’re constantly busy, busy, busy, you don’t have any headspace to reflect on where every daily step is ultimately leading you. Running real fast is no good if it’s into a brick wall.

You need to carve out more unproductive time. Get less done for a while. You’ll probably realize that a bunch of the shit that zaps your attention and time needn’t be done at all. Just let it slide and see that it probably just didn’t matter. Very few things ultimately do.

Productivity is all about focus, which in turn is all about a narrowing field of view. Shutting out the rest of the world. But many novel solutions require just the opposite: An expansive field of view, letting in the rest of the world.

Look, you obviously can’t have your head in the clouds all year long. But for highly motivated people that doesn’t seem to be a danger as much as having your head in the grind 24/7.