Focus, priorities, clients and NADD

by oneafrikan on April 13, 2006

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and it seems that the more I put on my plate, the more important it is to stay focussed on the 20% that actually makes the difference in life. There are however several realities that get in the way of things:

  1. Projects always take longer than you intend them to
  2. Clients in general are always less prepared than you want/need them to be
  3. There is always more work, more optimising, more emailing, more calling, more prospecting, more networking, more spending, more reading, more browsing, more sleeping; to be done – so if you’re like me you will always feel like there is this insurmountable mountain waiting to be climbed, Now! and Today!

So what I’ve found works for me is that I’ve tried to come to terms with the above, and just try and stay focussed on what is most important, today and now. And nothing else.

There will always be things that I want to do, but what I’m slowly learning to do is to come to terms with them, realise that they will still be there when there is time and energy and motivation, and to just get on with the 20% stuff. If I do lose focus, I run the risk of doing things that are not good, like:

  1. Not keeping clients happy
  2. Not doing billable work
  3. Not getting enough sleep to function properly

So it ends up being this constant arms race between what I would like to do, my attention span (NADD candidate here) and what I should do – all are different but are all somehow equally important to me.

To help me stay focussed I’ve written down this little list of my priorities which I keep referring to to keep me on track:

  1. Invoicing for billable work (cashflow is king). I hate doing it, but it must be done or I don’t get paid for my time and work.
  2. Doing billable work. A man must eat and man must have a castle.
  3. Finding more billable work. Obvious. I need to eat next month, and I need a place to live next month.
  4. Working on my web app. If I don’t, no-one else will, and then I’ll never be able to retire to my island in the Bahamas with my harem of retired supermodels and garden of organically grown food managed by my full time cook ;-)
  5. Selling the web app. Also obvious. If you don’t tell people about it and sell it to them, then you’ve built something no-one will use and that’s bad.

And to be honest, anything and everything else is secondary, unless it falls somewhere in the list above, or it has some immediate benefit.

Of course, this is about tech and clients and business and starting up (the 8am to 8pm part of life), not necessarily about life in general (although the above does seem like all of life right now). I still need to have room for the rest of life, which includes friends, family, romance, food and fun…

And so my evolution continues.

At the moment, I seem to be combining Getting Things Done (process), with Kaisen (philosophy) and the 80/20 principle (decision making), and it’s having a better effect than when I was trying each of them exclusively or perhaps ignoring the others more than I should have. You might even call it some kind of harmony.

I am doing more work and being more productive now, but on the things that are yielding results. I am eliminating the waste in my life, as I’m doing the most important things and am happy that I will get to the nagging things as and when I can. And because I’m semi-proficient (can anyone be totally?) at the GTD process of things, my brain and I are far more efficient together and as a result I’m more creative. Which is good.

Moral of the story? I’m not sure, I just had to get that out… ;-)

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