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Vol. VIII of The Sunday Selects
Happy Sunday. Welcome to the curatorial issue of Path Nine where I share recommendations, links, and ideas that will help you on your path to think, work, and live better.
This week’s issue is 476 words and takes 3 mins to read. 1. Words to Live By: Break it down, then build it up. Tackle big goals by focusing on smaller parts. 2. Methodology: The Unitasking Principle. 3. Links: ▶︎ All Success Is A Lagging Indicator. ▶︎ Unpluq - Get another hour & 20 minutes in your day, everyday. ▶︎ Getting Everything You Can Out of All You've Got.
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The Sunday Selects
Notes, Links, and Ideas from Kevin K.
1. Words to Live By
Take a deep breath, count to ten, and tackle each task one step at a time - Linda Shalaway
The world can be overwhelming, with endless worries and challenges that feel insurmountable. However it’s important to remember to step back from the chaos, take a breath, and refocus. It’s what’s called Chunking, which is a productivity technique that involves breaking down complex tasks into smaller, more manageable parts.
Chunking can help us overcome feelings of overwhelm and anxiety, and increase our productivity and motivation. One of my favorite examples of chunking is from the all-time classic “What About Bob,” where Bill Murray’s character, Bob Wiley, learns to tackle his anxiety one baby step at a time.
TL;DR Break it down, then build it up. Tackle big goals by focusing on smaller parts.
The Unitasking Principle
The unitasking principle is a productivity strategy that involves focusing on completing one task at a time, without interruption, before moving on to the next task.
Only 2.5% of people can multitask effectively.
That should tell you everything.
We multi-task because we’re inundated with notifications and requests for our attention. And we worry that, if we let one drop, we’ll miss out. The irony is that we worry about the consequences of missing the unimportant notifications, and it causes us to miss the important things that happen in the present. Our distraction is our ultimate downfall, and what keeps us from reaching our goals.
Why it matters: As humans, we’re easily swayed by new stimuli. And the pace, style, and tools of modern knowledge work are riddled with excessive stimuli. Whether it’s Slack messages, email, document comments, text messages, calendar notifications, or any other ping from the dozens of tools that fill our work, our attention is pinging all over the place. But, what if we could take back some of the control? By using the unitasking principle, not only can we regain our attention, we can reduce productivity anxiety.
↓ The Downside: Focusing on one task at a time is not always practical. For example, when I write a newsletter, I’m switching between writing, researching, designing, reading, etc. I try to stay focused on just the writing, but often I need to seek out additional information in order to improve the writing. If I were to do these tasks sequentially, it would take me far longer to produce the content. For many, the ability to focus on one task is one of the biggest challenges of the modern world.
↑ The Upside: There are three key upsides with the unitasking principle:
Focusing on one thing at a time allows us to go deeper, and simultaneously go faster. It the classic representation of the U.S. Navy Seals saying, “slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” Not only can slowing down to focus on one small thing help us increase productivity and speed, it also helps reduce anxiety.
By breaking things down into small enough steps and focusing on just one item at a time, we limit our cognitive load. For example, if we think about trying to run a marathon, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed about the insane amount of work required to complete a marathon. (I mean, running 26.2 miles is insane, right?) But, if we reframe it as just one step at a time, we’re able to focus on a smaller, more reasonably-sized task. It’s all in how we frame it.
➤ The Takeaway: The unitasking principle is simple and powerful, and that’s the point. Simplicity can be powerful. It can help us narrow our view and focus on what matters. Here are a few easy ways to regain your focus and start unitasking:
Change your status - people are intrusive, especially at work. Change your status on Slack/Teams/etc. to let them know when you need to focus
Snooze notifications - use Focus mode or other built in tools to wall yourself off from the distractions of the world around you.
Close it or block it (or both) - sometimes snoozing just isn’t enough. Close the apps and/or block the website that you may gravitate toward when you’re seeking distraction or avoiding work.
💭 An Article - All Success Is A Lagging Indicator
When I look in the mirror and I’m a little flabby, that is a lagging indicator that, for weeks and months, I’ve slacked on eating healthy and exercising. When I’m grouchy and frustrated and anxious or short with my wife, that is usually a lagging indicator that I need to eat. When I’m getting sick a lot, that is a lagging indicator that I have not been taking care of myself, working too hard, not sleeping enough.
I often think about leading and lagging indicators, and how we measure progress. For me, I look at everything as a long game. There are so many times where the key performance indicators I’m tracking is actually a representation of what I have or have not invested in for the last X days/weeks/months/years. To be successful, not only is it critical to think through the second-order consequences, but to understand how our daily investments will lead to success or failure. Will future you be happy with the results after watching more TV or reading? Will you have made enough of the right deposits to reap the rewards in the future? Make tiny investments today that pay dividends in the future. Or, as Shane Parrish says “Your life is designed to get the results you are getting right now. Whether you realize it or not, you are the architect.”
🧰 A Product - Unpluq
Get another hour & 20 minutes in your day, everyday
Ideas don’t come from spending more time with screens. Our best, most creative ideas come when our mind is free to roam, without distraction. With Unpluq, you choose which apps you want to block, and when. If you need to access a blocked app when your schedule has kept you from it, you can–with a layer of intentionality. Check out of screens and click into your creativity.
There are only three ways to increase your business: 1. Increase the number of clients. 2. Increase the average size of the sale per client. 3. Increase the number of times clients return and buy again.
It’s one of those books where line feels so incredibly obvious that you wonder why you’re even reading it. But that’s the beauty of it — and many decent business books. The simple writing, beat you over the head with it ideas, and actionable insights help unlock the power of simple ideas.
The book is primarily about three things: 1) finding ways to maximize your revenue and profit from simple improvements and optimizations, 2) building a learn and iterate mindset, and 3) the importance of taking strategic, calculated risks. Whether you’re starting out on your own, racing up the corporate ladder, or running a successful organization, this book will help reinforce the principles that drive growth and innovation, while reminding you that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
And, just in case you missed it…
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Thanks for reading, and see you next week,
— Kevin K.