I have said that it is a boon to productivity to be too busy but did not address one key aspect: why?
One of the biggest reasons is also the most simple: if you produce too much, you can cherry-pick the quality items. In photography, for example, you have to take lots and lots of photos to get the one great shot you have been looking for. Of course it goes further than that, so here are some examples from assorted walks of life to illustrate the point.
One of my favorite quotations ever is from Mark Twain and the end of a letter he had written:
I would have written a shorter letter but I did not have enough time.
In other words, writing quality content (for a blog, book, or anything else) is best accomplished by writing lots of content and then choosing the good pieces. It is almost as if we need to discover what we want to say ourselves, exploring our ideas in the very act of committing them to paper. I am sure that the better a writer is more capable he is of consistently producing content, but even she must write a large amount of content to keep the ideas flowing.
When I first started this blog, I was afraid I would not have enough to write about. That has not ended up being the case. It seems that each time I write something, instead of having one less thing to write about in the future, I instead come up with two new ideas. It is counter-intuitive, but what ends up happening is that by publishing new content it gets me thinking about related topics and causes me to have more to say. I keep a list of ideas I want to write about on this blog, and it has been growing – not shrinking.
Part of the reason programmers get better at a given platform is that they come to learn the associated tools better. Another reason is that they actually develop their own tools on top of these tools.
By the time I had been coding for the iPhone for 2 years, you can imagine what a library of tools I had at my disposal. It is for this precise reason that I actually charge my clients less money to develop on a platform I want to learn better. I have no intention of being stuck in iPhone development if Android (or, even, non-mobile specific platforms) become the preferred norm.
I get involved in new projects at every turn. Sometimes I am working on as many as a half dozen different software projects simultaneously. This means I am constantly learning new skills and developing new ideas that have the opportunity to be successful.
Many successful entrepreneurs have gone bankrupt at least once in their lives, and it is no coincidence. They took a shot – many shots – and failed. This is not an excuse for incompetence but rather a rally to earn competence. Trying and failing, as long as you learn from it, is the best way to eventually succeed. Doing something is truly the only way you can learn how something is done.
The best MBA program or the most elite group of VCs will not guarantee success. These things exist in a hypothetical never-world. As the famous quotation says:
No plan ever survives first contact with the enemy
Experience is, for entrepreneurs and commanders alike, the biggest difference-maker. Earn it through trying (and perhaps failing) and trying again.
Where does quantity play a product in your life or profession? Let me know below!