Monday, July 19, 2010

Real Work

Counterintuitive and very important advice from Ramit Sethi.

Let’s say you were to start a small business – what do you do first? Think of all the things that you need to do: find a name, get a logo, register a domain, create a website... the list could go on forever. You could prioritize and figure out what is most important but as is anyone’s nature you would probably start doing the easy stuff first. It’s easy to think up a name, create a logo, set up a website, get on Facebook, get on Twitter - and you had to do those things at some point anyways, so why not do them right now and get them out of the way? You might think that it’s okay that you’re setting up a Facebook page because even though it might not be your highest priority at the moment, you’re still advancing towards the end goal, right? Problem is, there's an opportunity cost associated with not working on the highest priority item. "It can't hurt" doesn't apply because you're losing valuable time that could be spent on something else that's more important.

OK, I want to get three clients. What is it going to take to get there? And notice you’re going to need to say, “I need to get in my customer’s head, I need to come up with a proposal,” etc.

None of those things indicates you need a blog or you need a social media presence. So by starting off fresh, you can actually cut things down relentlessly. And that also helps you simplify your business. That’s so important. Ask yourself with each step, “If I didn’t do this, would it prevent me from getting started?” 99% of the time, you’ll find out that no, I can still do it without this.
The important stuff is usually the hard stuff. It’s easier to start on the easy stuff, to say “let’s eat lunch first,” check email, check Facebook, check whatever. It’s easier to not get started. That’s the eternal struggle. We're inherently lazy but you can cultivate a mindset of doing the tough things and getting the important work done.

It's tough to create but you want that mindset – it is absolutely golden when you jump right in to the real work when faced with a tough task.

Robin Hanson:
…as a blog author, while I realize that blog posts can be part of a balanced intellectual diet, I worry that I tempt readers to fill their intellectual diet with too much of the fashionably new, relative to the old and intellectually nutritious. Until you reach the state of the art, and are ready to be at the very forefront of advancing human knowledge, most of what you should read to get to that forefront isn’t today’s news, or even today’s blogger musings. Read classic books and articles, textbooks, review articles. Then maybe read focused publications (including perhaps some blog posts) on your chosen focus topic(s).
Of course you should allow yourself some breaks and leisure. And my blog can be part of such leisure. But never confuse leisure that makes you sweat with work.
Are you networking or are you just sending emails? Are you writing posts that are going to be just as relevant a year from now or are you riffing about the day-to-day? Are you going through the motions or are you actually advancing towards your goals? Constantly ask yourself those questions.

See also: Colin Marshall - Cargo Cult Creation

1 comment:

  1. As Mr. Jobs himself said, "I don't want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers."

    Great post!