Moving the boat forward

This week’s update

I found myself sitting down this week to write an update, but blocked from knowing what to write about. It wasn’t a case of having nothing to encapsulate in a post, but instead a case of FreeUP having numerous positive internal developments that would be unwise to make public.

I considered eluding to some of these activities to illustrate points or to try and get inspiration from third party articles to write my own, but why? What value would it create?

I ended up revisiting this blog’s homepage to remind myself why I was writing a post. “[D]ocumenting interesting/insightful parts of [the start-up journey that] may be useful to others who are looking to do the same” was the answer.

Part of the difficulty of founding, is knowing what to do, who should do it and ultimately what value the task has (the founder’s paradox). There are many interconnecting layers to this, but one of them is ensuring that effort isn’t wasted.

A useful question

One book (from an ex-rower) phrased the, ensuring effort isn’t wasted, part of the problem, as a question, “does this move the boat forward?” Does what you are about to do, ultimately move everything forwards towards the final goal?

If the effort you are about to expend doesn’t move the boat forward, then regardless of how you got there, the task, ultimately, should be deleted rather than completed.

It could be that you said yes to someone when you should have said no, or that you set up a repeating task to publish a blog post. It can be very compelling to complete a task to feel like progress is being made rather than removing it to make time for tasks that will actually generate progress.

As Parkinson’s law dictates, “work expands [to] fill the time available for its completion”. Part of the reason I think this law often holds true is because it’s more satisfying to complete something you mentally committed to doing, than it is to decide that the task no longer has value. There is also a comfort in sticking to a plan rather than reassessing it.

Applying the “does it move the boat forward” test to writing a post for the sake of it, the answer was no.

So I was set to bump this task into the future when I would (hopefully) have something interesting/insightful to share.

I then realised that this test was something I’d adopted on my journey of starting up due to its utility. Something that I didn’t originally use, but that has saved me hours of effort and proven highly useful.

It may seem like a very obvious test, but if you truthfully ask yourself, “will this move the boat forward”, ahead of doing tasks, you may be surprised by how much more valuable, and satisfying, your tasks can become. You’ll also be one step closer to overcoming the founder’s paradox.

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