The value of deep work and focused effort

A few years ago, a friend volunteered to help me for a few days with my startup. He showed up at my office and after a long discussion, offered to create a detailed execution plan for me.

He then left, promising to reconnect in a bit.

For the next few hrs, I was totally caught up in sending emails and doing bits and pieces of work. In between, I tried reaching my friend for some clarification but he ignored my phone calls and emails.

About 5 hrs later, I got an email from him. Attached, in an Excel file and a Word doc, was a detailed execution plan with all tasks, dependencies, timelines, and minute details beautifully laid out.

Clearly, he had slogged. But so had I. And what did I have to show for my 5 hrs? Just a bunch of emails and small, piddly tasks — nothing that moved the needle.

We were both busy, but I created no real value.

Now, every day, I do 2 hrs of deep, focused work and 1 hr of focused learning. Whatever progress we have made at our startup, HabitStrong, is due only to this deep work and focus.

Busyness just keeps us busy. Almost always, real value comes only from deep work.

– Rajan




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