The other week I was working out of a coffee shop, something I commonly do to focus and can knock out a bunch of work. This time, however, something was off.
I started, as I normally do, with catching up on my email. Within a few minutes I found myself trying to wrap-up some code, review a few designs, report a bug, prepare for a meeting, edit a blog entry, research a new feature, and the list goes on.
After 30 minutes I stepped back to look at my progress. I hadn’t completed anything, or made any real progress. In an attempt to get everything done, I was getting nothing done. I was switching context every minute, leaving one task after the other unfinished, and spinning out of control.
Fortunately I caught myself. I decided to slow down, make a prioritized to-do list, and get back on track. It worked. By doing less I regained my focus and was able to get my work done, the work I had originally set out to do.
As an engineering team at Belly we’ve struggled with trying to do too much too often. In an attempt to get a bunch of work out the door we’ve left projects unfinished, and we’ve fallen short of the quality we anticipate. Fortunately, much like my time at the coffee shop, we’ve also caught ourselves.
Today if you walk over by the engineering team, you’ll see 4 goals written on the wall and all of our work is in alignment with those goals. As a team, we’re working closer together on less projects than before, and getting far more accomplished. And we’re all enjoying the fruits of our labor.
Before you work yourself into a hole, set some goals. Hold yourself accountable to those goals and make sure everything you do is in alignment with them. In the long run you’ll do less work and you’ll get more done!