Here are some thoughts on a few of my highlights from “Four Seconds” by Peter Bregman.
First, remember that good enough often beats perfect.
“To get your most important things done without losing your mind, stop trying so hard and aiming for perfection. Instead, try racing as quickly as you can through the next phase of work. Spending less time on it might just make it better.”
I’ve been thinking about first drafts lately. For the past year I’ve bought into the idea of writing two crappy pages, the down draft, the vomit draft, and every other name it has.
Still, I don’t think I had the right speed in mind. Sometimes I’ll write a draft and do some minimal editing as I go along. I’m going to try removing even that amount of editing. Then I’ll have revise and rewrite at least once.
The above excerpt also reminds me of the recommendation that you can capture your voice better if you’re writing quickly. I experimented with writing emails daily and practiced by just sending them to a friend. Re-reading them, it’s clear that I wrote different.
It was some combination of (1) writing quickly, (2) writing casually in an email compose window, and (3) intentionally hamming it up while writing.
Speed can help.
Here’s another idea I’ll try to keep in mind as the new year approaches:
Fight the urge to fill every empty moment in your day, especially if you need to be extra-productive or creative for a task. Our best ideas typically come to us when we are being unproductive.
Take more showers, some long walks, and some time to not do anything at all. There was a New York Magazine article last year on productivity that I need to dig up and re-read.
It pointed out how ridiculous productivity culture has become. You make your work efficient to free up time to fill up with more work and now you have more to make more efficient.
To what end?
So the question is, Have you structured your environment—your life—so that you are more likely to accomplish your most important priorities?
Through reading many body-dysmorphia inducing male fitness magazines through the years, I’ve seen how effective changing your environment can be. (Put a mirror in your kitchen and 6 other weird tricks!)
I ate pretty strict paleo a few years ago and the biggest takeaway is that you need to remove items completely. Or you’ll eat them eventually. I always took weird joy in seeing my kitchen bare of any bad snacks. As a result, I didn’t eat bad snacks at home. (That was when I was at my healthiest.)
The other aspect of the above passage is that you need to know what your most important priorities are in the first place. (And also to recognize that the plural “priorities” is a contradiction.)
I’ll be reflecting as the year comes to end. I’ll see what I can do to create an environment that encourages terrible (but quick!) first drafts.