While doing some writing this morning, I came across this quote:
“You must always work not just within but below your means. If you can handle three elements, handle only two. If you can handle ten, then handle five. In that way the ones you do handle, you handle with more ease, more mastery and you create a feeling of strength in reserve.” — Picasso
Interesting, especially when you consider that most of us probably do the opposite, constantly stretching to handle 12 things when we're really only capable of handling 10 effectively, and maybe 5 with mastery, if Pablo was right.
And I suspect that he was. We know that multitasking, in general, costs you more time than you save—perhaps 20-40% of your productivity, in fact. Interruptions that disrupt your concentration can cost you 20-30 minutes as you reload deep context.
I've talked to a number of folks who've instituted "email-free" days or half-days, where the team simply shuts down their email clients and focuses on their real work. To a person, they've found this to be an incredibly rewarding and productive experience.
So here's my first New Year's resolution: Work Below My Means.
Yeah I know, there's still a few weeks before New Year's, but there's a lot that needs fixing, so I better start now :-)