The law of exponential return (Productivity Tip #2)
I’ve recently discovered the law of exponential return as it relates to focus.
In certain areas, the more you focus and go deeper the more you gain in return. And the rate of return increases as you increase your focus.
It’s easy to have a “respond mindset” and to think we’re accomplishing a lot. We respond to an email. We respond to a coworkers request. We respond to whatever’s on our plate at the moment. Someone calls, we respond. A thought comes in our mind, we respond. We can spend the whole day responding to things. This is being shallowly productive.
If you want to be deeply productive, you need to dive deep into focus and attention at what you’re working on. This is because the most difficult (and thus highest return) things are those that require the greatest creativity to solve. And usually you can’t solve difficult problems without deep focus.
Try focusing the entire day on one difficult problem. Go deep and stay focused. Don’t get sidetracked. And leave about 30 minutes at the end of the day to clean up all the things you had to push off, like email.
At the end of the day, you’ll probably experience a rush of empowerment as you’ve made deep progress on solving a really difficult and important problem.
Then, try it for two weeks. Push off “responding” to the last 30 minutes of each day, and just focus on going deep to solve a difficult problem every day. You’ll find yourself doing some pretty amazing things.