I said in the Key Concept of Making Decisions, that if I touch a task three times I force myself to do it that week or push it off to my next quarterly planning cycle. That quarterly planning cycle is where I ask myself this question.
“Given the resources I have and the time I have, what projects can I get done that will make the rest of my business easier or irrelevant.”
In some cases that means that I have had a book half written that I don’t work on for a year again because as I brainstorm for the activities I can do in the next quarter there are other projects that will bring more value to my business. They have a higher potential right now to make things easier or irrelevant.
This is a featured excerpt from my book Analogue Productivity: Bring more value to work with paper and a pen. Members get it for free.
In fact, as I write this I abandoned a book that’s almost 100% done. It needs to have an edit and rewrite some sections, but when I evaluate it against my business currently this content on productivity systems feels like the thing that will have the most impact on my business.
This question is good for more than just your quarterly planning sessions though. I use it every week, every day. In November 2017 I had kids sick almost every day. During one particularly bad day I had been up since 3 am with one kid and had another go down sick at 9 am.
I was supposed to write and record the first module for my 8 Week Business Bootcamp video course. Well that wasn’t going to happen. I had my oldest doing math on the bed and my middle child was now feeling better so she was build towers and trying to stick them in my butt1.
In that moment I asked myself: “With the time I have and the attention, what can I do that will make the rest of this project easier or irrelevant?” Looking at it that way, it was easy to figure out what to do.
I didn’t worry about recording, I took all my coaching material for the whole course which had been developed over the last two year and chunked it up into script sections. All I needed to do was to understand a small discrete portion of the script and where it should be cut into a chunk that fit together. From there I rearranged things so that the whole course fit better as a video course.
The next session I had for the course I could then write and everything without thinking about overall course structure. My job was easier later.
Any good productivity system is wasted if you’re not willing to plan each quarter for its maximum effectiveness. Forget the work you’ve done previously, what is the most important thing now. Be willing to cast off prior work and focus on that most important thing.
Your productivity system should make it easy to shelve items for the future so that they don’t become a distraction for today.
- Which projects will you agree to abandon until some point in the future so you can put focused effort on a single project that will make the rest of your work easier or irrelevant?
Photo by: vhmh96
- Yes quite literally in my butt. She’s funny that way. ↩