The Law of Tradeoffs

There are 8 Laws of Focus and one of them is the Law of Tradeoffs.

As David Allen said, you can do anything but you cannot do everything. In order to give your perpetual devotion to any one thing it will require the perpetual neglect of many other things. Focus, therefore, requires tradeoffs.

You can only focus on so many things at a time. And you can only focus for so many hours during the day. Instead of ignoring the limitation on your energy, embrace it and find ways to routinize and automate the non-trivial areas of your life so that even when you are not giving them your full attention and devotion, they are not being fully neglected.

The Law of Tradeoffs

Meta Work vs Doing the Work

There are 4 necessary steps to doing work that matters:

  • Identify
  • Plan
  • Act
  • Celebrate

Only one of those steps is actually doing the work. The other 3 are what we call “meta work”.

Meta work is the work that happens before and after the work itself. If you are cooking dinner, meta work is doing your meal planning and going grocery shopping and then cleaning up after dinner. If you are writing an article, meta work is scheduling your writing time and topic.

There are so many times when we feel like meta work is a waste of our time. Planning, meetings, reviews, etc… why bother!? Let me get to work!

To be sure, we never want the meta work to get in the way. But neither can we skip it. When you look at the meta work in context of the bigger picture, you can instantly see that it is necessary. You cannot skip any of the steps or else you will short-circuit the whole process. But, of course, neither should you spend too much time on the meta steps.

Meta Work vs Doing the Work

This Business Goes to Eleven

Something fun happened earlier this week: Monday was the 11-year anniversary of when I quit my job and began blogging for a living!

On Monday, I walked into the office and proudly exclaimed that this business goes to 11! I’ve been waiting a decade to tell that joke, yet all I got were blank stares from my team. (They were, of course, promptly fired.)

For any of you long-time readers, you may remember how I used to support my work through a $3 / month subscription to get access to the private “Shawn Today” podcast. Wow. Those were the days…

Over the past 11 years, so much has changed! It’s no longer just me, sitting down at my desk to write and publish for my blog. There is a team of us now, and I absolutely love getting to work with them!

We celebrated on Monday with a dozen Crumbl Cookies (if you know, you know) as we spent the day ideating, brainstorming, and organizing a lot of new initiatives around our 4-Focus Method and the next big update to Focus Academy and beyond.

This Business Goes to Eleven