How to do the Work that Matters

The Wright brothers focused on solving the problem of flight and all other problems were secondary. They did not care about safety, office, brand, name, or all other attractive activities disguised as work. By doing that, they were able to do the work that matters and solve the critical need for human flight. Henry Ford focused on creating an economical car for the average American – ignoring all other priorities such as design, brand, look, and efficiency. There’s something to be learned by the way these individuals did their work.

It is a very sneaky form of procrastination, but we tend to get distracted by the rather unimportant components of work. This is because all the distractions are easier to do than the main problem. These distractions serve as mini accomplishments when in reality they’re getting us farther away from what we want to accomplish – merely wasting our time.

The wright brothers wanted to solve human flight – not create the modern day airplane with infinite features.

Henry ford wanted to create an economical car for average American – not the modern day car with infinite features.

As a student, if you have ever found yourself spending lots of time formatting a Word document assignment, you are guilty of this. If you ever found yourself memorizing and doing past exams before an exam, just to get in A+ (instead of maximizing your learning), you are guilty.

Just like yourself, throughout my day-to-day activities I’m seduced by the work that does not matter. In school, it was the work to get high grades instead of maximizing learning and experience. At my work, it is the urgent and important work (customer service, marketing, or daily tasks) that take priority over non-urgent, but important work (fixing critical issues of the business).

In writing this blog, it is the work of thinking and planning that distracted me from just taking a pen and paper and writing this out. One must focus on doing the work that matters and be critically aware of the distracting work – something that feels like work, but is not.

Lessons Learned

  • Be more aware of the 80/20 rule in every aspect of life.
  • Always question “the work” you do – mostly it’s disguised as work.
  • Always do work to directly solve the problem and be certain to have that clearly articulated.
  • The quality of work matters over the quantity of work.
  • We tend to deviate towards easier part of our tasks list instead of working on the problem.

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