About a year ago, Merlin Mann wrote an article titled “First, Care” which has stuck with me ever since.
His main point was that in order to be truly productive and focused you don’t need the latest productivity tool or distraction-free writing software. Those things can make your work easier or more enjoyable, if that’s the type of person you are. But they’re not be the magical secret ingredient that will help you focus on the task at hand.
No, to truly focus on something you need to do one thing at a time. Multitasking is a recipe for disaster. Trying to do multiple things at once will only get you half-assed results because no single thing will have your full attention.
But Merlin suggests that before you start messing with your to-do list and pick that one thing, that you take a step back and think about what you’re about to do. He writes:
…obsessing over the slipperiness of focus, bemoaning the volume of those devil “distractions,” and constantly reassessing which shiny new “system” might make your life suddenly seem more sensible–these are all terrifically useful warning flares that you may be suffering from a deeper, more fundamental problem.
And the problem is… you don’t care.
If you don’t care (truly, deeply care), about what you’re working on, you’ll always be distracted by something. You will always find something that will, in your own mind, give you permission to procrastinate. As Merlin says in his article, “Before you sweat the logistics of focus: first, care. Care intensely.”
This is something I deeply believe in. There is nothing in life worth doing if you don’t care. The only way to work is to care are about your projects, care about your goals, care about your teammates, care about your clients, care about your company, care about everything you do.
If you don’t care, quit. You’re in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing.