Last week I was listening to an episode of Million Dollar Brainstorm
, in which the hosts Shaan and Sam were chatting with investor Daniel Gross*.
Towards the end of this episode, he mentioned the phrase improvisational productivity. Obviously, I’m a sucker for anything pretentious-sounding that seems vaguely related to productivity so this was right up my street.
Daniel’s idea, which he elaborates in a blog post
, is that the less we think about something, the more likely we are to do it
The longer you think about a task without doing it, the less novel it becomes to do. Writing things in your to-do list and coming back to them later helps you focus, but it comes at the cost: you’ve now converted an interesting idea into work. Since you’ve thought about it a little bit, it’s less interesting to work on.
It’s like chewing on a fresh piece of gum, immediately sticking it somewhere, then trying to convince yourself to rehydrate the dry, bland, task of chewed-up gum. Oh. That thing. Do you really want to go back to that? “We’ve already gone through all the interesting aspects of that problem, and established that there’s only work left”, the mind says.
I noticed this when I was starting my new YouTube channel (Appendix
). I’d been toying with the idea for over a year before I even uploaded the first video to it. And since the first few uploads, I’ve been in thinking / planning mode for so long that the only thing left to do is sit down and film the videos for it. But that’s not the interesting part anymore, and so I haven’t been able to bring myself to do it.
Equally, for my first Skillshare video editing class
, I’d thought about it for weeks before one free Saturday thinking to myself in the morning “right I’m going to film all 30 videos in this class today”. It took that improvisational approach of ‘lets just do it’, of just executing
, to get it done.
There’s probably an optimal amount of time to think about something before acting on it. But most of us (including me) usually err far too much on the side thought rather than action.
So the question I’d put to you this week is this - what are you currently thinking about that you should really just get on and do?
Have a great week!
*PS: Incidentally, anytime I’ve listened to a podcast with Daniel Gross as the guest, I’ve always taken away nuggets of insight.