I’ve had an easy time being focused lately. I say no to obligations or opportunities that I would have easily accepted before. I have fewer things on my todo list, which means I get to spend more time on the few things that I’ve said yes to when I sit down to be creative. I also have a stronger sense of my values – what’s important to me, and what’s less important – and that’s helped me leave more room in my schedule for myself. I’ve been thinking about why it’s easier for me to focus now, and what might have changed.
The most significant change in my thinking has been that I have a lot of conviction now that the few things I’m spending my time on – university, writing, side projects – are right for me. If a stranger had come up to me last year, told me I was doing it all wrong, and suggested I make different choices in my education or my work, I would have been easily swayed. Today, I feel myself standing on much firmer ground. Because I’m sure that I’m spending my time on the right things, it’s easy for me to say no to things that’ll take that time away from me for something else.
The problem with advice, generally, is that it ignores context partially. And the problem with productivity advice, is that it ignores context completely. What you should be doing entirely depends on your career. An executive in a bureaucratic company would benefit greatly from Parkinson’s Law or “Make Decisions” but a musician, artist, entrepreneur, inventor, scientist, philosopher, novelist, architect, or historian, may not. And neither would someone thinking about their relationships with other people. In fact, neither would an executive in a bureaucratic company, if the commitment he has made to a plan or to Parkinson’s Law infringes on alternative, more satisfying career paths.
Throughout my life I’ve found that the simplest solutions are often the most powerful. So far I’ve found no simpler solution to start tackling any problem than to simply write it down, and then keep on writing.
The most valuable thing is to produce something and put it out in the world. All the planning, engineering, thinking exists just to support that. With no realization, no “getting started”, ultimately there’s no value to be generated at all.