“Do The Thing!”


My eleven year old son asked me to watch The Last Airbender series with him. It was one of the most brilliant series and animations I’ve seen. Like a good Pixar movie, this was excellent for kids and adults… clever, complex, etc.

In the next Avatar series, based around a different character (Korra), there is a brilliant-but-wacky entrepreneur, or business tycoon, named Varrick. His assistant’s name is Zhu Li (which sounded like Julie), and she was uber-competent and patient with Varrick. Probably about a hundred times Varrick would yell:

“Zhu Li, do the thing!”

And no matter what Varrick was thinking, Zhu Li would do the thing to save the day. She was that awesome.

This morning I was going to title this “do the right thing” but I decided to change it to Do The Thing, as Varrick would have yelled. And somehow, Zhu Li would get it done, even though Varrick didn’t say what the thing was, or how it needed to be done.

I want you to tap into your inner Zhu Li and do the thing, every day.

Last night I went to bed and told my wife I didn’t even touch the #1 project I was supposed to do. I had a few things on my calendar, including plenty of work on JibberJobber, but spent the day doing everything else. I caught up on some emails, and a project I’d been putting off, but I neglected The Thing. The most important thing I needed to do that day. And now that has delayed a few other things.

Today I woke with new resolve to do the thing. I have a lot of respect for the thing. I know that if you do it you feel like your day has been successful. But, you can kick it to tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and do other things… and you don’t feel successful. You feel like this nagging thing just won’t go away.

What is the thing?

Do The Thing: focus on what you need to do

I don’t know what it is for you, but every day I know what it is for me. It changes, of course. It’s not always one thing… Yesterday I had some slides to finalize, and so I could record at night (when things are quiet). But, I put a dozen other things in front of my one thing and when it was time to record, I wasn’t ready.

While I did a lot of good things yesterday I felt like my main goal was a failure.

If I were to have done that one thing early on, and then the dozen other things, it would have been a success.

Today, I start over, with the same one thing as yesterday. I will finish it, I promise. And I’ll record tonight. And today will have been a success, even if I don’t do anything else.

Figure out your most important thing… the thing that you need to do that will help you make progress, and DO IT.

Just do the thing. Every day.

One of my most important Pluralsight courses is on productivity. It is titled Prioritizing Tasks and Managing Time for Greater Productivity. In that course I talk about plenty of tactics to help increase your productivity. There are productivity wonks all over the intertubes… there are tools and apps and notebooks and all kinds of things you can use.

What I’ve found is that you need to find what works for you. You don’t have to invest in an app to be more productive. You could read books and take courses and become an expert on productivity but never really be productive. I want you to focus on becoming productive, even if that means writing an old fashioned to do list out on paper every day. If that’s what works for you, great!

For me, I have taken a page from this excellent series and focus on doing the right things at the right time.

What are your best productivity hacks? Share in the comments or hit me up on Twitter: @JasonAlba