Why Being “In Between” is The Black Hole of Productivity

Great work requires both time and space, but you also need both attention and intention to deliver quality results.

But attention without intention is powerless. Why? Because unless you know why you’re dedicating energy, focus, and time to something it won’t get your full effort. The reason behind giving something the attention deserved can be decided either by need or by want. But once you have any sort of dilution of intention in there, then the power of attention is diminished.

Conversely, intention without attention is directionless. It’s like saying that you want to score a goal but you don’t bother to look at the net when you shoot. The goal is rarely realized when this happens, and certainly won’t happen consistently if you fail to look every single time. When WWE personality Triple H appeared on The Tim Ferriss Show he offered up the following quote:

“…a dream is something you fantasize about…a goal is something that you set a plan (for), work towards, and achieve.”

Dreams need to become goals to seem real. These goals need to become projects to be realized in some way, shape, or form. In order to seem real, dreams must be divided into goals. Then the goals are broken down into projects. In order for this transition to happen, you need to give attention to each intention. If you don’t, you sell your dreams, goals and yourself short.

One of the best ways to level up both your intentions and your attention is to say “no” more often. You can say “no” to external offerings and do the same for internal offerings that deliver more conflict than results. External offerings can be things like writing that guest post for a site that you don’t really have time to focus on or teaching someone how to do make their computer work better. Internal offerings are things like trying to figure out if you should do guest posts for sites or whether or not helping friends and family with their computers is a good use of your time, energy, and expertise.

Ultimately you want your intention and attention to be focused on the things you need to do and want to do — and not what you think you ought to do. Those things you think you ought to do are the things you’re not sure about — should you do them, have someone else do them, or drop them altogether? The “ought to do stuff” is where you get stuck. They are the ones that rest somewhere in between. They are the ones that keep us from putting as much into what we need to do as we can and they also prevent us from spending enough time on the things we really want to do.

You need to decide whether these tasks — the “ought to do” tasks that leave you settled in the in between — are worth doing or not worth doing, otherwise you’ll wind up in a productivity black hole that can suck you in and overwhelm you.

I’ll be writing more about intention, attention, and how to avoid the pitfalls of those “ought to do” tasks more in the future because I want you to have a simple, flexible, and durable way to do that.

Because that’s what we all need…and what we all want.