Great email from a reader here, republished with permission -
This is just a quick "off the head" reply.
I haven't spoken, emailed to you in awhile, but I had to tell you that this is the most important thing:
In my most humble opinion, the SINGLE most important difference between those who are SUCCESSFUL and those who are not (and you can define success in ANY way you want, doesn't matter) is this:
1) Those who get "stuff" done ASAP
2) Those who put stuff off.
It's that simple.
Yes, of course, there are other issues, we all know that. Your whole blog and email is about the little, subtle things that one can do to absolutely and completely tune and perfect these things.
But, honestly, that's the main thing I find in myself (and others) either overall, or at different times in my life. If I am feeling like I'm doing a lot, it's all about doing things NOW rather than LATER.
This really got brought home to me yesterday when talking to my Aunt on the phone. Her grandson, my cousin, is somewhat the "black sheep" of the family. I actually like the guy and he and I get along real well. He got involved in drugs when he was young and has made some bad decisions, but deep down, he's a "good guy", just not "together". Well, to make a long story short, she was telling me about his latest trouble. Guess he got a DUI some months back and then didn't go the court-appointed classes, etc., etc. Well, bottom line, she had to "loan" (give) him $500 to get back into the classes again because he missed the 90 day deadline. He told her: "I thought I had more time" and she replied "Tony, you had 3 months!".
And it hit me.
THAT is his main problem. He puts stuff off. Oh, not stuff he wants to do, but the OTHER stuff. The stuff no one wants to do. Well, I upon hearing this story IMMEDIATELY wrapped up and shipped out all the eBay sales I had made in the last week and was procrastinating about shipping out! (Fun listing and getting the money in, not so fun doing the actual packaging, shipping, mailing.) But THAT is the point!
Doing the little things every day that aren't fun, but so important.
My new goal is to tie up loose ends each and every day, if not each and every hour.
I hope all is well with you. Last I heard you were in Outer Mongolia I believe? Awesome!
Yes. I want to tie up loose ends daily. Thats tough. Especially because I enjoy to-do lists. It can also overwhelm me and I don't want to do anything. Fortunately I know this isn't the life I will always have...
Now I just need to make that new life already.
I believe success can be measured in many different ways. It isn’t just getting “stuff” done and getting it off your plate, though that is a part of it. Success is doing the “stuff” correctly, thoroughly, and revisiting your successes to ensure results of what you have just accomplished are continually successful.
Just completing tasks from the most important to the least in the most timely fashion will yield an end product, but will that end product be the best end result you can put out? I see a lot of this in my industry… People get things done, but the end result is junk.
I can only speak for my experiences, but taking the extra time to make sure the job is not only completed, but custom done for each of my clients needs and from scratch is extremely important. Working to make sure the solution is custom designed for their needs and they receive the best service from me and my company at all times… My success is also measured in the happiness of my customers, the repeat business, and the referrals.
I revisit my success and “re-measure” how successful the solution has been on a quarterly basis with reviews. How has service been…? How have the multi-function systems been running…? Are you fully utilizing all of the features…? Would you like further training..? etc...
I believe success is measured in people, in character, and in actions… Not just how fast we can check things off a list, though that is a small part of it… I will go back to work with someone or buy something from them even if they aren’t the cheapest, because I know I will get what I pay for.
There is another category of people: those who are good at getting stuff done SOME of the time. I've known a few who can power through objectives for a couple of days, at which point they'll bomb out, lose motivation, leave projects 3/4 finished, perhaps miss the opportunity that might've come if they'd just kept going a little longer. Truth be told, I'm probably one of those people myself.
I think this should be rephrased ever-so-slightly as:
"Those who get THE RIGHT stuff done ASAP"
The two ingredients of success: figure out the right thing to do, and do it.
I think we all know people who get plenty of stuff done, but it's all the wrong stuff. I think they're scared of thinking about what they should actually be doing, so they make themselves feel "busy" with meaningless tasks.
Get a coffee and some popcorn ready before you read this one. Love it or hate it, either way you'll be wildly entertained. Names and details changed, for obvious reasons.
Subject: Very important email from Sebastian. Please read ASAP.
This is a very important email. Please read it, wait 10-20 minutes before replying and just think about it (don't surf the web, just think), and then reply with your thoughts.
First, the tactical things -
1. Anyone one of you can use the following credit card to sign up for anything.
Where can you find me at 2pm on a Thursday? If you guessed by the pool being fed peeled grapes by the Swedish bikini team, you'll be surprised to hear that you're wrong.
No, really. You're wrong... At least this Thursday.
Actually, my friend Hayden.. WAIT... this is an important but totally unrelated sidenote :