Last week, I happened across Tim Ferriss handing out copies of 4-Four Hour Workweek at SXSW. I first read the book two years ago after hearing Tim speak at the Do Lectures in Wales. We were the only two Americans there and I was inspired by his talk.
I reread some of the book on the flight home and was struck by story of Vilfredo Pareto and the discovery of the famous 80/20 Principle: 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs.
Tim relates Pareto to our work life by contrasting Being Effective from Being Efficient:
Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions. The options are almost limitless for creating “busyness”.
Doing something unimportant well does not make it important.
Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important.
What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it. Efficiency is still important, but it is useless unless applied to the right things.
Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.
It made me think about how much of our work days are taken up with activities that keep us busy and “feeling” productive, without actually “being” productive.
David Hieatt, founder of the Do Lectures, picked up this theme last month on his aptly named blog, do one thing well:
You don’t need more time in the day. You don’t need to work longer hours. You don’t need to work weekends. You just need to spend more time on what you are brilliant at. And less time on all that other stuff.