Justin Kownacki blogged about time-based productivity, asking when one feels their most productive, but further going on to talk about the whole notion of people finding enough time to get work done, etc. I have a remix of what Justin posted.
Farming and Harvesting
Work is about both farming and harvesting. Some things you do are about the bigger picture, the ecosystem, the things that don’t immediately bring reward but are part of making the whole thing run. That’s farming.
If you want to “get things done,” that’s harvesting, and that requires you do things at the times that they need doing, or whenever it works best for you. If I want to do conference calls at 3AM, I’m probably alone in my interest in so doing. However, thinking without interruption is *great* at 3AM. So, harvesting is getting things done and getting things done requires context. If you’re a big fan of David Allen’s book and the systems that have arisen from it, this is the @ stuff. @The car. @Computer. @3AM.
I tend to like the farming part of the business a lot more these days. I like going out, seeding the soil, pulling weeds, thinking about whether I want to grow more of this and less of that. I’m not always so good at the weed pulling, but I’m pretty clever at spotting an interesting new crop in the catalog, and I do my best to know what the people will want at the farmer’s market when I go to sell off the back of my truck.
Focus on The End Goals
Obviously, you need to plant seeds, think about the future, but eventually you’ve gotta harvest. To do the harvesting, you have to stay focused. To farm, you don’t. To that end, it becomes important to consider what mindset is needed for both goals.
When I’m thinking about the future, I can do that whenever I want. My important output is to make sure I’m copying the information to people who can help it come about, and also to try and engage people who are more operations-minded (It’s come to my attention that I’m more of a thinker these days than a do-er). The end goal of farming is getting something ready for eventual harvesting.
When I’m harvesting, I have to shut off the distractions and attempt to focus. I have to get into a “numbers” head instead of a “words” head, meaning I’ve gotta put the strong notion of knocking off tasks one at a time until I’ve got things moved along, or better still, done.
Align This to Your Life
Justin’s post talked about the fact he’s nocturnal and that all his best work happens at night. Jeff Pulver does a lot of his work in the early morning. Me? I used to be more of an early morning for text and later night for media. Now? Well… I guess I have to refocus.
The point is to align your farming for when it’s easy to do that, and arrange your harvesting such that it makes the most sense. If your harvesting involves synchronizing with others, then it has to be at the time that matches them. If it involves peace and quiet, it’s clear you have to find when that time comes to you.
Most of all: recognize the edges of things, the “small boxes” that life gets put into, and then see if you’re working within a system that you haven’t chosen. Make sure you figure it out for yourself. No one will ever tell you what’s best for you. The best they can do is give you food for thought.
So when do you farm? When do you harvest? What are the things that matter to your particular situation?
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