This is the first post in a series called Making it Count about getting things done and using our precious hours wisely1 .
In the last few weeks I’ve had the privilege of rubbing shoulders with a handful of new people on a daily basis. They are students and instructors we’ve brought into the fold of the intensive code school I run at work.
My interactions with them have produced the same question enough times for me to think there might be value in answering it comprehensively on this blog. Here’s the inquiry:
How do you get everything done?
Being asked about productivity and work gave me pause for a few reasons. First, we do get a whole lot done at The Iron Yard—more than average, I’d say—but I don’t generally feel like we’re some super-productive anomaly. I feel like we’re people who put 110% into work that we love.
Secondly, and more importantly, the question made me think about the non-work aspects of our lives that most people don’t see, like family.
Accomplishing a significant amount of anything (and doing it well) requires sacrifice. We are all aware of this from a young age: getting high marks in school means you forgo some amount of play time. This principle of sacrifice and reward follows us for the rest of our lives.
As a result, on some level, when someone asks you how you “get everything done,” they are asking “what are you sacrificing?”
I’m going to answer that question (for me) over several articles on this blog. Fortunately, there’s a whole lot more to it than answering just that one question. Accomplishing great things in life, in work and family, isn’t just about sacrifice. I’ll cover things I’ve learned about time management, sleep, health, process, email, task-management, knowing others well, knowing yourself well and much more.
Why write about these things?
There’s been a huge amount written on this subject. Some of the pieces I’ve read are akin to entrepreneurial self-therapy through writing. That can be a good thing—writing can force you to really think through things. At the same time, the amount of snake-oil productivity and self-help advice out there is sickening.
For me, figuring this stuff out is extremely important. I’ve worked alongside too many people who have given up too much in the name work and looked back in regret. Many people are asking these questions and the answers will be different based on their personality and circumstances.
As I’ve grown and made mistakes, people who took the time to share honestly from their experiences have significantly reduced the learning curve for me and steered my feet away from many a pitfall.
As I do the same, hopefully someone following along will reap similar lessons on their journey.
1. You can read more about the series and view links to additional posts here.