Richard Reis
Jul 3 · 4 min read
By Richard Reis

Recently, I started building an app, Gurgeh. Every week I learn something new (this is a common feeling among founders). So I decided to share my weekly lessons in the hopes that (1) I don’t forget them and (2) they help you on your own journey.


Do you have trouble focusing because the world is full of distractions? Me too.

Personally, I find the worst type of distraction is the one that makes you feel productive.

What’s that you say?

Imagine you’re working on a project (in my case, Gurgeh). You know what your focus should be (in my case, iterating to perfection).

This is simple, but not easy.

Because it’s not easy, the first thing you do is look for distractions.

And since you don’t want to admit you’re distracted (or procrastinating), you look for distractions that seem productive.

Here are two examples that actually happened to me last week:

Example #1: Libra

Since I’m building a finance app, it’s obvious Facebook’s project Libra caught my eye.

“What if users can send money using Gurgeh?” I thought. “I could build a faster, cheaper, and global Venmo!”

Sounds like a fun idea.

In fact, I had a lot of fun reading Libra’s documentation, playing with their tutorials, and browsing the forum.

This was a waste of time.

It was procrastination that made me feel productive.

Why? Because guess how many users asked me for a Libra implementation?

Zero.

Example #2: Augmented Reality (AR)

Last week, I saw Tommy Collison’s tweet about the Gyroscope app’s AR feature on Twitter.

How cool does that look?? Pretty sweet right?

“What if I add AR to Gurgeh?” I thought. “People could see (in AR) how much money is safe to spend today, this week, and this month!”

Sounds like a fun idea.

In fact, I had a lot of fun going through this Udemy course and Lambda School’s AR videos.

Again, this was a waste of time.

Just another procrastination that made me feel productive.

Why? Because guess how many users asked me for an AR feature?

Zero.

“Everybody loves the idea of focus. But what focus actually means is shooting stuff you love and turning down things you know you can make work.” — Drew Houston

source

How to focus: Say no

The day I killed my social life, I believed I got the “focused” certification because “focus means just working on my project.”

I was wrong.

Truly, focus is about saying no (this includes saying no to all the mini side projects within your project!)

My users didn’t ask for an AR feature or a Libra implementation.

What did they ask for? The ability to add ALL their bank accounts (including credit unions).

… That’s it.

But this is super hard to implement! I admit it. Hence why I was playing around with AR and Libra.

Mea culpa. I won’t do that again.

A little gift for you

Below are a few of my favorite quotes on focus.

I couldn’t pick just one to end this post with, so you get them all!

I’m sure one of these will speak to you more than the others. Remember it.

“You have to have a real single-minded kind of tunnel vision if you want to get anything significant accomplished.” — Steve Jobs

“I stopped listening to music and watching TV in my 20s. It sounds extreme, but I did it because I thought they would just distract me from thinking about software.” — Bill Gates

“‘No’ is really really important. […] To really understand what you’re doing, you have to say ‘no’ a lot. […] That narrows in exactly what you need to do. And you’ll know whether you’re successful or not because you focused solely on this one thing.” — Tony Fadell (on what he learned from Steve Jobs)

“Focus intensely on the things that do matter. Every day, figure out what the 2 or 3 most important things for you to do are. Do those and ignore other distractions. Be a relentless execution machine.” — Sam Altman

And that’s it for today!

See you next week.

Be well.

R


Thanks for reading! 😊 If you enjoyed it, test how many times can you hit 👏 in 5 seconds. It’s great cardio for your fingers AND will help other people see the story.


The Mission

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple. Mission.org

Richard Reis

Written by

"I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other." - Epicurus https://www.richardreis.me/

The Mission

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple. Mission.org

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