I learned this my first semester in college. I had a political science class with a very famous professor. I was so excited and wanted to do well so I could graduate with a 4.0 GPA. This class was graded on only one thing: 3 tests given throughout the semester.
At the beginning of the semester, I went to every class, took copious notes, and studied the book like crazy–and got a “C” on the first test. I was devastated. Then I found out that nearly everyone got a “C” on the test and only senior PoliSci majors got an “A.”
This was discouraging, so next I went to every class, only took a few notes, and studied a little–and still got a “C.”
To end the term, I didn’t go to class and never cracked the book. You can probably guess my grade on the final: “C.” It didn’t matter if I worked hard or not. I was doomed to a mediocre grade, so there was no reason to spend the time and effort to study. There went my 4.0!
The truth is that many, perhaps most, of the things we do in any given day are NOT worth doing well. Should you get a ruler out to measure the bows on your shoestrings when you tie them to make sure you have tied the knot perfectly? Of course not! Should you cook a 5-course gourmet meal every time you need to feed your family? Absolutely not!
Many things are not worth doing well and though we must do them, we should dispense with them as quickly as we can, even if we don’t do a perfect job.
One of the important skills we can learn is to differentiate between things that need to be done well and things that should be accomplished as quickly as possible.
The problem is that we often decide according to habit, convenience, or pleasure.
Habit, because we’ve always done it that way.
Convenience, because some tasks are easier than others so we tend to spend too much time on them.
Pleasure, because we like doing them and want to spend more time on them.
We should decide what to do well according to one criteria: tasks that get results according to our goals. One of the most important steps you can take to becoming more productive is to be laser focused on result-heavy tasks and ignore or pass quickly over the other assignments.
Keep this in mind as you plan your day. Think, “How well do I need to do this?” If it won’t bring results that lead to your goals, get it over with quickly.
Anything worth doing is worth doing well…NOT!