If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.
We all have essential, important tasks to do in our day-to-day lives (like this morning I had to record the next episode of my podcast).
But if you look at where you spend your time, I bet a ton of it is wasted on some random stuff: Tasks you felt were important (but aren’t),stuff you “need to do” (but really don’t), busy work to look productive for your boss (but really doesn’t matter).
Why do we do this?
Every day we’re faced with a battle over our time.
And every day, we’re pushed to do more in the limited hours we have:
- We’re expected to answer hundreds of emails and Slack messages
- We spend countless hours in meetings (which drag on for too long)
- We’re surrounded by constant distractions, making it hard to focus on what matters
Saying “I’m sooooo busy” is like a badge of honor. We’re judged for how busy we are… even if the busyness doesn’t help the bottom line.
As a result, our calendars and inboxes are jam packed, and we’re always doing something.
Greg McKeown doesn’t believe life should be focused on the “more, more, more” mentality. His book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, is about pursuing only the most important tasks in life. This is one of my FAVORITE books of all time.
After I talked with Greg, I reworked my ENTIRE approach for this blog. My conversation with Greg blew my mind so much I told one of my Dork Squad team members: “This podcast f*cked with my head.”
Here are 4 essential lessons from speaking with Greg McKeown:
1. The shortcut is the hard work
If you scour the internet, you’ll find everyone is looking for shortcuts:
- “10x your email list with these 5-minute hacks!”
- “Make 6-figures from the beach!”
- “Here’s how I built an empire working 2 hours a day!”
I can see why people buy into this stuff. It’d be amazing to reap all the rewards of hard work without any of the hard work itself.
But if you think that’s going to happen, you’re living in a dream.
The best shortcut is hard work. (Tweet this)
- If you want to open a store, start selling stuff from your home to get going
- If you want to be the next YouTube star, just create videos and learn from the process
- If you want to build a 6-figure SaaS business, go validate a product and find a way to build it
You can’t just sit on your ass all day waiting for a magical shortcut. The shortcut is the hard work.
2. Don’t outsource the essential
At some point in business (or life), you’ll need to outsource something:
- Your laundry — drop it off at the laundromat instead
- Food delivered through Postmates, UberEATS, or Instacart
- Hire an editor to improve your writing
Hiring people is a great way to grow. I couldn’t produce all the content here on OkDork, plus my podcast and YouTube videos, without getting help from my Dork Squad.
|BONUS: Get the exact hiring formula I’ve used 10,000+ times|
But a word of warning about outsourcing…
You need to be careful to NOT outsource the essential work.
For example, I can outsource some of my podcast editing. But it’s important I come up with topic ideas, reach out to guests, and think about the strategy for the podcast I want to create.
The same is true of Sumo, we have a team of 40+ people now, all doing amazing work. But as CEO, some tasks — like the final decision on a question — I can’t outsource.
This also doesn’t mean you can outsource everything you don’t like.
I hate meetings, but my weekly check-in with the leadership team at Sumo is important to grow our business. It’s something I can’t miss (I can reduce it to just the necessary meeting topics, but I can’t avoid it). The bottom-line is, essential work won’t always be fun.
Focus yourself, outsource what you can, but ensure you spend time on the most important tasks you can’t outsource.
3. How to avoid catastrophe of success
Before you can think about the “next steps,” you first need to make sure ends meet.
In other words, to survive you need to make enough cash to cover your rent / mortgage, buy food, and pay your bills.
But past a certain stage, money stops being an issue and something very odd happens to a lot of people who are financially well-off…
Once the excitement of travel and the thrills of luxuries goes away, success doesn’t really feel as successful.
There’s a lot of shallowness in chasing success purely for monetary rewards. To steer clear of the “catastrophe of success,” it’s important to always ask yourself these two questions:
- What’s the contribution I need to make?
- What’s the thing I can do to make in impact that no one else can do?
To be truly successful you need to do the essential work that no one else can do. The work that makes you fulfilled and happy.
This is why I started the Noah Kagan Presents podcast, and began to publish more content on my blog and my YouTube channel. I love creating this content and find it incredibly rewarding, especially when I receive emails like this:
4. The paradox of similar
“Things that appear to be very similar are often not very similar.”
It can be easy to fall into the trap of believing that things that appear similar are similar.
But that’s not always the case.
For example, many bloggers and marketers transition into keynote speakers.
Both professions might sound similar because you’re sharing knowledge and educating people.
Greg used an example: He’s in high demand for work besides writing, but he doesn’t do any coaching or consulting.
Because even if it seems similar, it’s not. The cost of focusing on writing and speaking are vastly different when you start working on both.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. For more tips on success, cutting back, and growing your career, take a full listen to the podcast below.