The Work We Do

That title was the phrase that came to my mind as I realised that it appears I’ve done a lot today while in actual sense, I have only done little.

This is an observation article. Something I learnt from my work and I thought of writing it out for two reasons. One, to be able to fully comprehend it and two, to see if this applies to me alone or it’s general.

I set out to work on what I’ve not done before and instead of allowing myself time to get it done gradually, I chose to do all the work on one seat. I was doing it until I reached a roadblock in my mind and couldn’t continue again.

Now, instead of letting go of the task and moving on to something else, considering one, I have it’s project that completing it far more important that when it is completed and two, I may need to do more reflection or research before I can continue, I chose instead to be fixated on the short timeline I gave myself.

The result was an epitome of what usually happens anytime I attempt this sprint approach to a task/project that is meant to be a marathon. I get mental fatigue, take a nap because of the fatigue and when I wake up instead of doing the reflection, thinking or research, I would usually choose to continue with the sprint.

Typically, I end up not doing much in addition to when I first had the mental stop. But by this time, the day is far well gone and I probably need lunch already or even dinner. Note, I am the type that won’t be able to do much creative work when I am too hungry. And so, my sprint approach hit another big obstacle.

At the end of a typical day like today, I tend to achieve less. That’s bad but I’m happy I am realising it now. Not just realizing it alone, I am even able to put it in words. That’s a big win. “A problem defined is half solved” goes the popular saying. And I believe mine is half solved as well. Going forward, a sprint task will remain so and will be approached so and a marathon task will be approached as such as well.

Where do I go from here?

I read an article by Mark Essien that preached radical focus on the task at hand. Mark said that “ignoring all noise and focusing on that one project until you arrived at “completion” is the best way to get maximum result.” At least that’s how he has done it.

I almost subscribed to the letter of that article instead of its spirit until my current observation. I think the most important point mentioned by Mark was the fact that before you begin your radical focus, you must define clearly what “completion” mean for that project or task because not all tasks or projects can be completely completed. I agree to that now 100%.

Let’s assume the task at hand for me was to write a guide for investment that will amount to 10,000 words. What I’ve been doing before was to wake up one morning, sit down on a spot and determine that I will get the 10,000 words written on that spot. And that would mean radical focus, since it would require me to shun every other thing beside me.

However, since I’ve concluded that’s a wrong approach, this is what the spirit of radical focus would mean instead:

  1. Write 2,000 words per day
  2. The definition of completion per day would mean writing 2,000 words
  3. Once I’ve written 2,000, I can move on to another task for that day
  4. In 5 days, I would’ve completed the marathon.

This I will do going forward and if you happen to also be like me, I think you should try it as well.