Do One Thing Well

“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn’t any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it’s right. If it disturbs you it’s wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.” Robert M. Pirsig

The quote is from ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance‘ that I’ve been reading while working away from home this week. I woke up this morning in a hotel. A nice ‘executive’ hotel – one where everything was very professional, well organised, and worked exactly as it should … it was all very tranquil.

Except. The. Bloody. Teapot.

You know the one. Stainless steel, straight sides, lid that is a bit loose … the one that is utterly useless at doing what it was ‘designed’ for. The one that simply cannot pour tea without water running down the sides, and getting all over the table.

What is the point of a teapot that can’t pour tea?!

I also received a newsletter this week from Hiut Denim, listing their suggestions for Christmas gifts (lots of interesting ideas…). Hiut was established by David Hieatt, who has done a lot of very cool stuff (including writing the excellent ‘Do/ Purpose’), and the company mission statement is ‘do one thing well’. They make jeans. Brilliant, hand crafted ones. And nothing else.

All of which got me thinking about multi-tasking. We live in a culture that seems to expect multi-tasking – having lots going on is seen as the cool thing to do. I am all for having a wide variety of interests, and having multiple projects on the go … but it’s also crucial to be focused. We simply can’t do lots of things at the same time, and do them all brilliantly. When we think we are multi-tasking, we are actually rapidly switching between different tasks – and it’s not a very efficient way to work.

Don’t be a crappy teapot. Whatever task you are currently working on, do it as well as you can.

PS What if I can’t decide what task I should be doing?


Weekly [digital] email to help navigate the [analogue] world …

Weekly [digital] email to help navigate the [analogue] world …