Shaving down the unnecessary, to focus on the necessary
Eric Goodwin

If you look at the publish date of our last article and this article you’ll notice quite a gap. I wish the reason for the gap was that we were off traveling and not paying attention to time, and having a blast. The boring reality though is we’ve just been busy working. But we’ve been busy working on what (hopefully) matters more. Things like courses, workshops, and setting up all the behind the scenes stuff that makes the company run.

We had to cut a few things because it’s a simple fact that no amount of productivity hacking, planning, or rearranging will give you more time in the day. We only get 24 hours. For those like us (and if you’re reading this article you’re probably at least somewhat like us) we are trying to do a lot of things, more things than can fit into that finite 24 hours.

So what can we do? Focus. Focus on the important things that need doing, and push the unimportant tasks to the side. Because there is no way you can do everything you want to do.

This is hard for humans to do though, because we don’t know what is really important. We are constantly bombarded with a million things to do, and all of them seem vital and important, but most aren’t as important as we think. Let’s run through a helpful and popular tool to help us determine what is actually important: The Eisenhower Matrix  

Now it’s tempting to just put all your tasks in the ‘Important - Urgent’ section. Just like how it’s tempting to try to make a product quickly, inexpensively, and high quality, but you can’t really do that. You have to step back and make conscious choices about what is actually important.

Most of the time what trips us up is we confuse what's urgent with what’s important. Or we think something is important when really it isn’t that important, let’s take a small business owner as an example:

  1. It’s important to post on social media every day to keep your followers engaged
  2. It’s important to file your taxes properly and on time

Scenario 1 seems important, after all you want engaged customers and followers which can help boost your business and make it successful. But it only seems important until you compare it to scenario 2 which if not done will result in your company being dissolved entirely, hefty fines, or even worse. You’re told both are important, and both seem important, but one is a lot more important.

Now those are fairly extreme examples, but it’s to show that you can’t just put everything on the important side of the chart. Not everything is that important.

Try and step back from your endless to-do list and determine what is actually important. Whether in design, business, or personally. Pick out what is going to move the needle the most, and focus.