I was reading another post on Farnam Street about velocity. Shane Parrish connects velocity to saying “no” really well, so I decided to write an atomic essay on it.
Velocity is speed with direction. Let’s apply this to a different context. Busywork is like speed — you get stuff done, but you go nowhere. The equivalent of velocity is working with a crystal clear goal. Everything you do should help you move closer to that goal.
How do you make the shift from speed to velocity? One way is saying “no” to everything that distracts you from your north star.
Saying “yes” to everything is tempting (I’m guilty of this too) since there are always potential opportunities. It’s hard to know what will lead to gold. The problem is that if you don’t have a clear goal, you’ll waste time on useless tasks.
One solution is to create a set of criteria you use for every new task that pops up. After defining your goal, spend time building a list of questions related to it. Will this task strengthen my relationship with someone? Will it help me learn a skill? Will it help me build credibility or make money?
When you don’t have credibility, the best way to say “no” is to show progress. As you advance toward your goal, you can use it as an excuse: “I’m too tied up with my current project to work on that.”
Be intentional with what you do and ruthless with what you cut.