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Getting Things Done is about Quality, not Quantity

John Doherty —  September 11, 2011
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I’ve been reading a number of books and blogs recently about business. I recently got sent a copy of Tony Hsieh’s “Delivering Happiness”, thanks to Zappos Service. I’ve also been reading Michael Hyatt’s blog Intentional Leadership, where he shares a lot of tips about productivity and leadership. Both have impacted me in big ways.

Let me tell you a story.

I work at a company, Distilled, that is all about hustle. In the course of a week at my job, I will probably touch everything from a technical site audit to internal marketing for our conferences. I might be working on gathering research for an infographic and the next minute I’m fixing an issue on the website and cleaning out the spam queue. My job is never boring.

This lack of boredom is a good thing since I have a history of getting bored in or burning myself out on an industry within a few months and then look to move on to a new industry. We have a lot of awesome things going on here at Distilled Рconferences in New York and London, blog posts on our blog and many other industry blogs, and numerous awesome clients to keep happy and effect change for.

Oftentimes however (and this does not reflect poorly on the company, but on me) I get caught up in doing so many things that I forget to do any one thing well. I’ll be jumping from one project to another and not focusing on doing any one particularly well. I’m great at starting, but not so great at finishing. Even while writing this post, I keep getting distracted by Twitter and email.

This is funny, because at the heart of the GTD methodology is this:

GTD enables greater performance, capacity and innovation. It alleviates the feeling of overwhelm, instilling focus, clarity and confidence.

Michael Hyatt, the Chairman (and former CEO) of Thomas Nelson Publishers wrote a blog post called The Unproductive Writer’s Guide to Success, wherein he says the following regarding keeping your audience’s attention. The same principles apply to work.

…Instead of spending five hours writing ten blog posts, spend five hours writing one good post….

If it takes me all day to write an email that makes me a lot of money, that is better than spending five minutes to write an email that fizzles on impact. Yes, the email must do its work efficiently, but I do not have to be productive in its construction.

Instead of shouting and splashing, slow down and be unproductive. Focus on just one thing and do it right. You will be spinning circles around your competition.

When we get bogged down in a lot of “stuff to get done”, we can lose focus easily. Too many awesome things really is a problem.

I’m trying to take the time to focus on doing things well. I wish a way existed to quantify the value of time. If I get 10 things done, but not well, I’d like to be able to quantify that against 1 thing that I did REALLY well and thoroughly.

Just some thoughts.

John Doherty

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I'm the Senior Marketing Manager of HotPads.com, based in San Francisco. Previous to Hotpads I worked at Distilled for 2 years as an online marketing consultant. In my spare time I shoot lifestyle photography, ski, rock climb, and update my Twitter and Google+ accounts.

3 responses to Getting Things Done is about Quality, not Quantity

  1. John,

    I swear you have telepathic abilities. I was just going to ask you about that link you tweeted once about the GTD blog, or was it action-oriented productivity, something along those lines… Do you still have it?