I used to spend hours polishing unimportant work 🤦🏻
Does "Filing the best tax return in history" pay off somehow?
I felt like I was treading water:
It wasn't just the tax returns.
We all know they're a check box activity. ☑️
Done or not.
Zero points gained by going from 100% to 110%.
Then, In 2020, I read a thread by Shreyas Doshi, which profoundly shifted my approach.
Since then, I put tasks into 3 categories:
1. Overhead 📑
- have to get done, or I have a problem.
- actively try to do a bad job. Just get it done. It will be good enough.
2. Neutral 👣
- Move the needle, but only in steps, not leaps.
- do a strictly good job and no more.
3. Leverage 🚀
- payoff substantially outweighs the effort.
- Do an incredible job; let the perfectionist shine.
Anything else is noise and goes in the bin.
The aim is to spend the maximum possible time on the Leverage.
I've come to understand that Leverage can come in different forms:
🔄 Residual - benefit is recurring.
eg, a blog post that's visible for years after publishing or automating a tedious task
📈 Compounding - improves with consistency and time.
eg, your career experience and professional network or your retirement savings.
⚙️Asymmetrical - huge payoff relative to the effort
eg, getting a job offer from Spotify or nailing your Product Strategy
So, if you're stuck on pointless polishing, you should question the benefits.
Try taking your current list and filtering it through this framework.
3 things I’ve found helpful:
- Pomodoro helps remind me to pause and shift focus.
- Start with the most important thing.
- which everyone says, helps if you can do it though.
- Separate planning time and doing time.
- writing my next action tasks clearly, means I can just do, without having to think too much about what to do.