You shouldn’t be doing that

“More effort is wasted doing things that don’t matter than is wasted doing things inefficiently. Elimination is the highest form of optimization.”

James Clear 3-2-1 Newsletter

Some people suffer not from inaction but from too much action. They have so many tasks they are trying to do each thing that they can’t focus on a few important tasks. Unfortunately, simply doing more does not guarantee improved productivity.

The Pareto principle states that broadly speaking 20% of your tasks are responsible for 80% of your outcome. A bank branch might have tens of thousands of customers who maintain an account with them. A couple of hundred accounts will belong to high value customers, the customers that are responsible for 80% of the deposits in that bank. A branch manager does not waste time with the supermajority of low value customers. Instead, he offers highly personalised banking services and quicker response times to the few high value customers because he realises if just one of those high value customers choose to take their business elsewhere, the branch will suffer for it.

Multiarmed man
Not all tasks add the same value

Most tasks are like the low value customers. They provide the illusion of useful work but contribute little to your growth. A few tasks, on the other hand, are like the high value customers. These A-tasks tend to require focus and some degree of dedication. They are also the tasks most people are likely to procrastinate on. It is easier to binge watch a season of your favourite anime than to commit to reading a self-improvement book for one hour each day. Some fun tasks such as binge watching can be done with so little effort and consume a lot of time that some people automatically start those tasks when they have something more important on their plate. Bad news: This is how addictions are formed.

Take a look at the tasks you have been doing today. Are there any that should not be done by you? Why have you not eliminated them?

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