Don't waste time doing something twice

What do you really want? is a weekly conversation to help you figure out what you really want and how to get it at work and in life.


How often do we do something and then redo it again? Too often it’s easy to pass over doing more now because we think “oh, I’ll get to that later”.

But later is a trap.

Take email for example. If you don’t have a good system for processing email, you can end up spending much more time handling the email than if you’d just responded the first time or added something to your todo list.

I regularly see people who open emails a lot of times (sometimes over 100).

Why are they opening an email over and over again?

It’s because they don’t have a good way to deal with something the first time. Think about how much time is wasted opening emails multiple times, reminding yourself about what it is, then saying “ah, yeah, I need to do that sometime … but not now”. Inbox zero is a powerful tool because it’s about handling email in your inbox once.

Other times that doing something right the first time pays off:

  • When you’re reading, capture highlights

  • When you’re building a new product, talk to users upfront

  • When you're putting things away, pick two things away

  • When someone on your team doesn’t know how to do something, show them how

  • When you have a small task (less than 2 minutes), do it now

  • When someone needs to be corrected, tell them

  • When something is broken, fix it

There's a universal truth here: it's easy to think we will return and take care of something, but the reality is that's difficult to do.

Doing something right the first time can actually be a great shortcut.


What have you been learning about? I ask this of my kids every dinner and love to hear from other avid learners.

New Project

How to make the most of a home-centered family life. In light of recent events, many people find themselves with a lot more time at home. My wife and I started a new project this weekend call Deliberate Family to spur discussion around intentional family living.

And let’s be honest, she’s the driving force and I’m the backup singer.

We’ve found some things that work for us in the past years of homeschooling our kids and working remotely. Hope that can help as we all adjust to a new normal.