The philosopher Mark Kingwell puts it in existential terms: “Procrastination most often arises from a sense that there is too much to do, and hence no single aspect of the to-do worth doing. . . . Underneath this rather antic form of action-as-inaction is the much more unsettling question whether anything is worth doing at all.”
Fred had an inspiring post about the ability to always add one more thing. His old roommate called it N+1. Just when you think there’s no more, you find a little room.
Perhaps it’s worth considering an alternative. N-1. There are tons of things on your to do list, in your portfolio, on your desk. They clamor for attention and so perhaps you compromise things to get them all done. What would happen if you did one fewer thing? What if leaving that off the agenda allowed you to do a world-class job on the rest? What if you repeated N-1 thinking until you found a breakthrough?
I feel bad reposting his entire (albeit short) post, but Seth says it so well that there’s no point in paraphrasing. Click through to his site if you enjoyed the thought, and consider subscribing to his blog. I promise you it will provide similar insights on a regular basis.
The “Back to the Future” films have given us glimpses of times and places that could have been, from a comical 2015 populated with flying cars and hovering skateboards to an alternate 1955 where Michael J. Fox invented rock ‘n’ roll. But how might history have turned out if the first “Back to the Future” movie had starred Eric Stoltz, as its filmmakers originally planned? In this clip from the “Back to the Future” 25th Anniversary DVD collection, the director Robert Zemeckis, his co-screenwriter, Bob Gale, and executive producer Steven Spielberg discuss how they made the heavy if cinematically momentous decision to replace Mr. Stoltz with Mr. Fox, and show early footage that was shot with Mr. Stoltz in the role of Marty McFly.
Lots of people I know both online and offline rail against meetings, but I’ve never seen the argument put as well as this. The problem isn’t meetings themselves, but rather the assumption that any and all meetings are more important than what you might happen to be working on. As is suggested in this article, I’ve tried to say ‘no’ to meetings that are not well-defined or have no clear goal set. It doesn’t go over too well.
From Off the Hoof:
Let’s start with the premise that you have a 40 hour week. (If you just started crying you need a new job.) That’s 40 hours of time to do your job. Now look at your calendar. If your job is to spend a very large part of those 40 hours in meetings scheduled for you by other people then you’re fine. If your job is to produce things such as code, comps, analyses, flow documents, etc., then why isn’t the time to do THAT on your calendar? People rarely schedule working time. And when they do it’s viewed as second-tier time. It’s interruptible. Meetings trump working time. Why? And why so often are the same people who assign deadlines the same ones reassigning all of your time? Crazymaking. They should be securing work time for you and protecting it fiercely.
A great comic about the perils of email from The Oatmeal: