Many of us love how-to guides. Whether it’s how to have a more productive work environment, be more creative, or be more decisive, these tips can give us a little jolt of can-do spirit when the going gets tough. We at PARAGRAPH even produce pieces in this vein ourselves if the inspiration strikes us. (See here and here for some infographic-y examples.)
Lately, though, it seems that the media landscape I encounter on a regular basis has become saturated with advice, so much so that it’s become a cottage industry. And the time may have come when we should probably think about how much we’re talking as opposed to how much we’re doing.
The rub comes when we spend proportionately more time thinking about improving the way we as individuals work than we spend actually “doing things.” I’m no stranger to the seductive power of yet another helpful discussion on what sort of ambient noise I want while working or how long I should try to focus on knocking something out. But I do draw the line somewhere. (My personal favorite is the sort of guide that claims to help avoid procrastination, yet whose direct effect is to lead us to procrastinate further. Like this fantastic New Yorker piece that I got sucked into for hours, days.) For people like me who usually have twenty things floating through our minds at any given time, there is the very real danger of this how-to addiction fueling a self-perpetuating cycle of distraction. (Maybe I need to start carrying the torch of single-tasking.)
To atone for my own tendency to get sidetracked, and hopefully to inspire others to act in the ways I aspire to do, I’m offering this worksheet. Although it’s intended as a prompt to figure out which projects are worth pursuing, it’s also a means to remove mental barriers. I personally find that all my excuses for procrastination are ripped away when a project’s nuts and bolts (and its appeal -- or lack thereof) are staring me in the face.
Download below, print yourself a copy, and dig it out the next time you need that extra nudge to dive into something. Probably more importantly, use it to think through whether a given opportunity is really something you want to devote yourself to. After all, if it’s more doing that I’m advocating, it had better be the important things that we decide to do.
Gwen McCarter, Strategist
The PARAGRAPH Project is a marketing research and strategy firm based in Durham, NC. We are, at times, a strange brew. But this is what works for us — and inevitably, it works for our clients. The types of people who work at PARAGRAPH are strategists, anthropologists, artists, engineers, entrepreneurs, negotiators, students and builders. Herein lies our value.We are able to look at problems from many different perspectives and apply this diverse point of view to solutions for our clients. After all, if we conduct the same research in the same ways as our competitors, what advantage do we gain? By using old research methodologies in new ways and inventing new methodologies unique to each client’s research objectives, we quickly explore more territory to find insights often overlooked. We believe creativity is the missing link between useful information and actionable inspiration.