As a self-employed author-publisher, I spend an amount of time researching improvements to my processes; and I receive – directly or to groups I’m part of – recommendations for articles and methods that have boosted the greatest entrepreneurs to uber-mega-greatness. And some of the advice I find is very useful. But some of it misses what is, for me, a key point: work is a means not an end.
Anyone who’s been near a self-help section or a business guru will have seen the articles I mean: 7 Habits of Successful Yak Herders, Why Vampires Don’t Wear pom-poms (and Why You Shouldn’t Either), Cutlery Is For Other People. All of which set out ways in which person X or group Y have worked out a way to spend more time on the bits of their day that are productive, and less on the bits that aren’t. Which is all very helpful.
But only so far as the advice doesn’t infringe the bits that are non-productive for a good reason.
For example, Steve Jobs always dressed in the same clothes; which some experts have used as an example of how to trim away trivial decisions (such as what to wear today) so your”decisiveness” can be spent on decisions that matter. And anyone who’s been to one of those ten-different-cuisines, all-you-can-eat restaurants will probably agree that volume of decisions can be a problem.
However, some of those experts go on to suggest removing all decisions that don’t benefit efficiency: have the same meals at the same time every day, &c., with a goal of removing 80-90% of the choices you make. Which is where they, for me, miss the point.
I don’t view choosing my meals as a chore; I enjoy considering the options. I dress similarly every day, but I do it because clothes don’t hugely enthrall me; other people take joy from being complimented on a new look.
Fundamentally, I work to support my free time; ways in which I could be more productive if I spent more of my free time working put the means over the end.