I am currently reading Paul Graham’s Essays
, and the one that struck me the most this week is titled How to Lose Time and Money
. It talks about how many of us have built alarms that warn us when we are becoming too self-indulgent, like spending too much money on luxuries or having too much fun. Those alarms remind us to stop and do more productive things.
However, we haven’t learned enough or built alarms for fake work (for time) and investments (for money). We are taught that successful people do those two things, but they are also the easiest way to lose time and money if you are not cautious.
Paul says, “the most dangerous traps now are new behaviours that bypass our alarms about self-indulgence by mimicking more virtuous types. And the worst thing is, they’re not even fun.” It’s a beautiful essay. You should read it!
About Losing Time
Value is in the impact, not the amount of time spent. While working at Seedstars, I got familiar with the concept of ‘work that moves the needle’. If you want to get shi* done, keep it simple and focus on what moves the needle.
You want to spend your time doing the things that have the most impact. You also want to create an environment that helps you be productive. So that instead of losing all your time doing fake work and keeping busy, you can spend it resting, learning, and moving the needle.
Ask yourself: what can I do today or this week to move the needle and prioritize them. What will surprise you is that the most valuable work is not always the one that requires the most time or even resources and keeping busy - doing a bunch of activities to checkboxes is not as productive as you think.
Your environment matters: I said it before; creating an enabling environment is essential. And only you can identify what enables you. For some, it’s music, for others it’s been around people, for some it’s a well-arranged desk, and for yet another set, it’s the comfort of their bed.
Personally, mine changes regularly. In December, it was my work desk. In January, it was the lounge and meeting room on the 56th floor of my building and in the last two weeks, I have done some badass work from my bed. I’d much rather spend my time working in my enabling environment per week than lose it trying to find my mojo in a setting the world advocates for.
You can’t move the needle if you do not know what is expected of you: There are very few productivity hacks as productive as clarity. Know what your team expects of you, know your KPIs, find out how your role impacts the NSM and bottom line. Please speak to your manager to understand what they are looking out for.
In my current role, my most important metric is Monthly Active Users (new & returning) & of course, I always align with my CEO on Growth spend available, so my team have what they need to do great work. Everything I prioritize every day is always connected to either acquiring, activating or retaining users.
Focus does not mean ignore: As a growth lead, you’d find me doing the things and on the channels that consistently converts the best. However, a common fallacy with the Pareto Principle is that if 20% of inputs are most important, then the other 80% must not be important. In the same way, focusing on what moves the needle the most does not mean you ignore everything else. No! I’d still experiment with other ideas and channels. I’d still give so time to relevant meetings and emails, I’d still do or at least delegate other work that indirectly feeds into growth.
So, just because you want to spend 20 hours every day building your career and skill doesn’t mean that you should ignore your mind, body, and relationships because true growth is multidimensional. Prioritize the 20% that moves the needle but yea, do the other 80% while watching TV (please don’t quote me :D)
Writing a to-do list is not old fashioned
: My productivity this year has been off the charts, and I can attribute it to Google Tasks
. I list out my weekly tasks on Sunday nights and wake up every Monday with purpose and clarity. If it isn’t on my list or my calendar for the day, it doesn’t exist. This way, I no longer lose time thinking of what to do next anymore; I just spend it doing (or scrolling through social media :D).
I hope you found this helpful.
I’d keep reading Paul Graham’s essays, and if I find something else exciting, I will share next week; or maybe I’d share something I learn from a book I am reading on Intimacy. What would you prefer?