In last week’s post I wrote about how the fact that many founders and other achiever-types often have a hard time focusing actually has very little do with them not knowing how to focus, but a whole lot to do with the factors that make focusing difficult.

As it turns out there are two big reasons why we have a hard time focusing on the stuff we know is important. Last week we talked about how Reason #1 is STRESS, and you can read about that in last week’s newsletter.

This week I want to address Reason #2 – Stuck in the busy trap.

We are all caught up in a culture of obsessive productivity in which we frequently feel overwhelmed and overscheduled. Nowhere is this truer than for startup founders. We live as if life is one long to do list and that our job is get it all done. And this fuels an obsession with productivity hacks and apps, and a life in which we’re frantically running from this to that, doing two or three things at the same time, and thinking about what’s next before you have finished what you’re doing. For founders, this multi-tasking lifestyle is not optional… it is required. But it creates a brain that’s always on…and we wonder why we can’t turn it off.

Sound familiar?

But here’s the truth: your job (yes, even your job as a founder) is not to get everything done. First, it’s impossible. It is the nature of the job of a founder that there never is (and never will be) a time when you can sit back and think, “ah, I’m all caught up.” Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you should do nothing. Your job isn’t to retreat into a cave or to some remote beach. You’re not a monk or a slacker. You are meant to get things, big things, done. But what I would suggest is that your real job, as a person and as a founder, is to be fully present for whatever you are doing.

In other words your job is to combine doing and being. There’s a word for that: it’s called FLOW, and it’s when we’re performing at our best, and enjoying ourselves fully.


– James