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Hi, I'm Bobby Matson.

I'm a NYC-based software engineer and entrepreneur. I love working on new business models and experimenting with funky ideas. Shoot me an email if you'd like to collaborate on one!

Bobby's Blog

Forest From the Trees

Distractions are the enemy. Truth is, we all struggle with focus in our lives. And not just “I need to finish this task” focus, I’m talking about “finish this work” focus.

It’s the difference between

I’ve built this cool landing page!

and

I’ve found a new customer!

As I work to have no more zero days, this distinction is becoming more clear. Each day, I do one task towards my stretch goal, which is to build a profitable, impactful business. If I don’t achieve at least one aspect of that goal, I’ve broken the chain.

Here’s the problem: when you are focusing on the task at hand, it is hard to see the bigger picture. You miss subtle clues. It becomes very easy to just work on things you think are important but totally aren’t. That is one dangerous habit!

Richard Hamming, author of the Hamming Code (among many other things), emphasizes the significance of this trap in his essay, “You and Your Research”:

If what you are doing is not important, and if you don’t think it is going to lead to something important, why are you are working on it?

Take my experience this past week. I worked on a task which eliminated some cross-browser bugs. I thought it was important for Safari and Firefox users to have a great mobile experience. In truth, I’m not even sure who my users are, let alone their browser preferences.

So why did I do this? No one is even viewing this thing! This strive to have the product be “perfect” is stifling its progress.

To combat this, I’m going to do a personal planning meeting every Sunday. The meeting will involve sketching out high-impact tasks for the week and prioritizing them properly. This action ensures that I’m on track towards my bigger goal and not being distracted by chunks of work that have not been properly evaluated ahead of time.


I’ve been posting weekly updates to my progress having no more zero days. If you’d like to keep in touch, tweet at me!