What Is Actually Important? (#2)

Day in and day out, work is laid before us. Some of it easy and some of it difficult. Some fun and some miserable, but despite what the work is there is always work to do be done. Especially with startups, there is a lot of work to be done to get our companies up and off the ground. The question we need to be asking ourselves is “What is actually important?”. Part of that question we know has to do with prioritization.

I am sure you have heard lots about it, but how many of us actually do it? I know that I have a hard time prioritizing and I am working on it. In Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision & Reality, Scott Belsky points out that we are limited on time, but we are also limited on energy. Energy is the word that caught my eye. We all know that we have 24 hours in a day and we have to sleep at some point, but how much energy do we have?

Energy is a resource that is most precious to us, and some tasks require more than others. As I stated earlier, there are tasks that we like and tasks we dread. These dreadful tasks tax our energy resource far more than the ones that we enjoy. However these tasks have to get done. That is where organization and prioritization come in. We cannot simply work on the tasks we like to do, otherwise our businesses will struggle or die.

Even poor time management can deplete the Energizer Bunny.

Making a list of what needs to be done and knowing what is going to zap your energy, you can prepare yourself to battle it. Schedule your day out when you are most productive to do miserable tasks, because you know you are willing to exert energy then. More enjoyable tasks require less energy so do those when you are tired.

Doing the hard work is still not easy, so we need to motivate ourselves to get it done. Forbes wrote an article and in it they said that you need to revisit our motivation for doing the work. That advice is wonderful because it helps us to really see what is going to make our business rise to fulfillment and drive us.

Taking time at the start of a day to sit down and look at what all you need to do is a great first step. According to Bakadesuyo, “Energy, not time is the fundamental currency of high performance.” which means that when you are sitting down and organizing, stay focused on the tasks that will take up your energy and need the most energy. You can rank them in order of energy.

There is no clear path as we are all different. That is why knowing yourself is such an important part of building a business. From The Book of Life , they write “Knowing yourself has extraordinary prestige in our culture. It has been framed as quite literally the meaning of life.” which can be in more than just business. However, I think that in business, if you do not know yourself well, you will not succeed. You will mismanage what work affects you negatively and you will drive your dreams into the ground.

Energy is one of the key factors to our success in business so be sure to schedule it well. Enjoy your work and when the work gets hard know that your dream is on the other side of it!

References:

  • Belsky, Scott. Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles between Vision and Reality. Portfolio/Penguin, 2012.
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9 thoughts on “What Is Actually Important? (#2)

  1. Such a great question every startup needs to ask! There are so many things that you can do it seems so overwhelming. There are plenty of podcasts and books to read, but at times these can make it seem even more overwhelming. It is extremely easy to get lost in all the noise!

    I just found an awesome video that I think applies here:

    This is Denzel Washington giving a motivational speech to what looks like up and coming actors and actresses. The main thing I took from this video is when he says “dreams without goals, are just dreams and ultimately fuel disappointment.” In my opinion, it seems like with all these things we can focus on it can be much easier to “dream” rather than set “goals” and get work done.

    “I think that in business, if you do not know yourself well, you will not succeed.”
    Definitely agree with you here! You must know what you are and what you are not!

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    1. Denzel is the man. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. You have some great points in your blog post! The fact is, there is way too much to do on most days! One’s energy level does determine how much can be accomplished. The pointer of planning the day around what takes the most energy during the time that one most likely has the energy to accomplish the task is good advice (as you mentioned, these may not be pleasant or enjoyable tasks). And then the tasks that are more enjoyable can be scheduled in when one has less energy because joy in what one is doing goes a long way. I appreciated your question right in the title of your blog… “What is actually important?” Determining the answer to that question is half the battle!

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  3. Turner,

    There are so many little factors that can make or break an entrepreneur but breaking down the pure science of energy is something I have never thought of completely. There are many times that I can now think of when I started completing tasks and I felt the energy dying out. Once thing I have learned to do is to ensure completing the harder tasks before the easier ones. I have noticed an improvement doing so. Right now, I am reading the book “Made to Stick” and am figuring out ways to keep things simple. I believe this can relate to the energy factor due to the amount of energy lost in overcomplicating tasks.

    Jake Gibson, of entrepreneur.com suggests ranking tasks across four metrics: important/not important and urgent/not urgent and the rest on your “to-do” list will fall in place on its own. These simple reminders are of help in times when you feel yourself getting off track. Thank you for your insight this week and I alway appreciate the “opening of my eyes.”

    – Paul

    Sources: First Things First: The 5 Secrets To Prioritization Jake Gibson https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235768

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  4. Turner,

    There are some excellent references here to keep any startup project on track. Organization and prioritization of energy are two very important skills for any entrepreneur to master. Compromising sleep is an option to add time to a project at the end of the day. We all know that this is probably the most unproductive work that we accomplish because it involves very low energy. I’ve learned the hard way that the tasks that require the most energy should be tackled/prioritized first.

    My secret to long-lasting sustainable energy throughout the day: drink lots of water, remember to breath deeply and get as much sleep as possible. Along with these words of wisdom which are new for me, “Energy, not time is the fundamental currency of high performance.”

    I’ll look forward to future posts!

    ~Chris Ivesdal

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  5. As soon as I started reading your post I was laughing. Not because of what you said, but about a memory you stirred in my thoughts. Back in 1993 I accepted a job in Nashville Tennessee. I had the boss who the Governor of Tennessee stated publicly was the smartest human whom he had ever known. I’d say that was a rather high standard. Unfortunately, this boss was also arrogant and very pushy and demanding. He’d give me a list of 10-15 things to do. They all just had to be done !!! Everything was urgent. I was up to his challenge. I’d calmly write down the entire list, assess it, and then determine what were the top five things that had to be completed to reach our shared goals. It worked every time. He was thrilled with my efforts and would always forget about the other ten items on his list. Governor ….. I guess that I outsmarted him.

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  6. Turner,
    I liked your post greatly. Interestingly, one of the areas my book covered this past week was around Energy. The Energy in my book was focused on Resources used to create energy. However, there are such parallels with what you are talking about. Energy is key to our survival and success. We are constantly trying to use less energy (efficiency) or increase energy (productivity). If we do not establish goals around these efforts, we end up with a lot of waste. I enjoyed your blog because it was a very nice overview and perspective regarding an individuals energy. What connected with me was relating it to the overall value of energy within a society. I believe that entrepreneurs need to understand their own energy management to achieve results, but the need and use of energy by society around them to understand how their business may play a role.

    Great read.

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  7. Turner,

    I can relate to what you posted here more than I might like to. Balancing out my thesis work, research assistant duties, and assorted classwork is a constant exercise in prioritization of my time. Recently, I have been finding that my energy is another resource that I have to take into account, both on the first working day of the week and later on in a day. Attention to detail is important, but difficult to manage when you are tired and getting into “screw it, I’m done” mode. I think that I will try and use some of what you talked about in planning out my days from now on. Something that I would like to add to this is that a schedule of what you want to get done w=should be structured as guidelines instead of a rigid schedule. Barring set deadlines, if the mood to work on something takes you, it might be worth it to set aside a task and ride that wave of focus and energy. It generally results in a better result than when you have to work through the process of working through a task, if that makes any sense. My moods can be flighty when it comes to working on specific things, but being in the mood to work on something specific can be just as important as getting motivated to work on things in general.

    Patrik

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    1. I definitely agree that it is best to work on certain projects when you are on a high to do it basically. A loose schedule based on deadlines is a great idea as well! Thanks for your response!

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