What’s Important Now?

You’re overwhelmed and there’s a ton of stuff to do. You could quickly make a long list of anything from buying groceries to taking the car to the shop to adjusting your investments.

But what’s important now?


As in, now. Not next week, or even tomorrow. Right now.

That one thing is all you need to be doing. Nothing else.

Maybe it’s visiting a friend who is a rough spot. Maybe it’s finishing your project before the end of the day. Maybe it’s getting on the same page with your spouse about a sensitive topic. Maybe it’s repairing the car. Maybe it’s talking to a friend about the skeletons in your closet.

Or maybe it’s getting a nap because you’re exhausted.

Isn’t it a little freeing to think this way? Doesn’t it make life seem a little less overwhelming when you only need to take it one single step a time?

It’s an easy acronym to remember: WIN.

How do you win? Figure out what’s important now and do it.

That’s it.

Sure, there’s plenty of reasons to have a big picture plan and vision and blah blah blah.

But you can’t get there unless you stop thinking about everything else, focus on what’s right in front of you, and follow through on this step.

Then you can focus on the next.

What’s important now?

Why You Should Ship Products After Short Development Cycles

It’s tempting to get your product “just right” before shipping. I mean, why produce (publish, manufacture, create) something if it’s not the best it possibly can be?


Well, because you will never improve it fast enough until you actually ship it.

And revise. And repeat.

Each time you complete a phase of your product’s evolution, your ability to refine it also improves. Said differently, you will improve your product much better the more iterations (cycles) of develop-and-release you complete.

The key to bettering, therefore, is not huge phases of development. Instead, the key is more, shorter, development cycles.

Remember the Rev Dash concept?

It’s important to ship Rev Dash so you can get started on the next revision, Rev A. Then B, then C, until you eventually get to Rev K or so. That’s when your product really starts to become great.

There’s no other way to refine your product. But let’s imagine it anyway.

You could develop your product for a decade, then have it on the shelves for a decade. But that’s still only one iteration of your develop-and-release cycle!

The goal is to get over being afraid of shipping something that isn’t perfect. It will happen every time, so just accept it! Instead, realize “done” is the goal.

90 percent perfect and shared with the world always changes more lives than 100 percent perfect and stuck in your head.
–Jon Acuff

This is what I do with Leadership Vacuum. It forces me to ship three times a week, whether great or awful. But this way I’m getting better at the creating, editing, and shipping process — three times every week.

Once you have shipped your idea, you can process feedback about it. People can’t try out your product until it is in their hands. Mentors can’t read your book until you send them a draft.

And until you are done, you don’t really know what problems your product has. Why?

Because you only use the product how you intended it to be used. Others will use it a hundred different ways than you imagined. They will expose the product’s strengths and weaknesses.

As a software engineer, I experience this constantly. I write an app that works perfectly, but only when it is used like it was designed. When I “test” my software, I use it the right way and it works. When the customer uses it, they ignore my intentions and make up their own rules. They are not limited to my “ideal” test case.

It is difficult to fully test your product as the designer. That’s what users are for!

Ship already. Then your users can give you feedback. So you can better your product.

And ship again.

And use short develop-and-release iterations to help you get rid of bad ideas and find good ones quickly.

Extra Credit: Read this article.

How awesome would your product be after the tenth time you revise and ship it?

Done is Better Than Perfect

By aiming at perfection, you guarantee your product (art, book, song) will never ship. Perfection is unachievable and a huge distraction.

Yet it’s so easy to get caught in the trap of trying to make things perfect.


Let’s say it differently: Perfect is the enemy of done.

They hate each other.

Here’s encouragement to replace “perfect” with something much better.


The temptation to make your work “perfect” only distracts you from releasing it for the world to experience.

Take this post for examp

What do you need to stop working on and just ship already?!

Frustration Breaks III: Walking for Solutions

I just could not make any progress on my project. Every attempt I tried was a dead end. I jokingly told my coworker, “That’s it — I’m going for a walk. Watch me have the answer when I get back!”

“Riiiiight,” my coworker replied sarcastically.


After the lessons learned from rewiring a transmission and my bleeding gums, I am starting to take more frustration breaks. At work, I enjoy taking walks around the building for small problems, or around the block for big ones.

This is what I call walking for solutions.

While I was out walking, I passed my boss’s boss in the parking lot. He asked what I was doing. I said, “I’m walking around so I can solve a problem.”

His response? “We should do that more often!”

There’s something powerful about taking frustration breaks — that is, stepping away from difficult problems. Just a little distance — mental or physical — clears away the fog. I like walking for solutions because it combines the two with an excuse to go outside.

And often the solution comes to you before you get back to work.

I can link my productive days at work with the number of breaks I took.

Chip and Dan Heath describe this concept regarding decisions in their book Decisive. They explain how important it is to “Attain distance before deciding.”

Hmmm. Powerful, isn’t it?

Your non-conscious brains have an incredible ability to solve problems with just a little bit of distance.

But you will only spin your wheels until your conscious brain takes a hike.

PS – Believe it or not, I did actually figure out the solution to my problem before I got back to my desk!

Frustration Breaks I: Wiring the Transmission
Frustration Breaks II: Bleeding Gums

Are you more productive when you take breaks? Instead of walking for solutions, what do you do to solve frustrating problems?

Frustration Breaks II: Bleeding Gums

My gums were in pain. Every time I flossed this one spot, they would bleed a bunch. After many days of this, I went to the dentist. She said to stop bothering it for a few days.


But it didn’t make sense to me. This gap in my teeth always catches food, and I couldn’t imagine not flossing it for even several days. I felt like it would get worse without cleaning. So I kept on flossing.

And soon I bled every time my sore, inflamed gums were touched — not just flossing! Finally, I gave my poor gums a break.

Why do we push through our frustrations when it only hurts us further?

It worked, of course! A few days later, my gums were back to normal and I could floss again (sans blood).

It seems so obvious now.

And yet, my first response is still to power through. Keep going. Brute force. If I keep trying harder, I will magically make up for my lack of progress.

When you have time for a break, you might not need one.

When you don’t have time for a break, you need it badly!

Now you are aware of it, and you will learn to realize it in the middle of your frustrations.

And you will be much better off for taking a frustration break to pause and refresh than if you just power on through counter-productively.

Frustration Breaks I: Wiring the Transmission
Frustration Breaks III: Walking for Solutions

Share a time when a frustration break helped you regroup — or would have helped!