The Think / Do Rhythm and “Green Lighting” Writing

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 08/09/2010

As I approach forty, I’m thinking through that one of the things I’m most dissatisfied with is the rate at which I get useful stuff done. I think that I spend too much time thinking, and not enough time doing. None-the-less, I see by looking around me that I tend to get larger, more impactful things done than people on average. So the only thing I’m dissatisfied with is the rate at which I which I think, do, think. It’s a question of rhythm–and this is all the more so as I’m trying to make more time for family.

There’s no way around it–thinking is necessary for doing. The better you think, the better you do. Existentialists and biocentrists might tell you that thinking is the same as doing in the ultimately subjective world, but I’m of the objectivity camp, believing we are a collection of like and equal beings, each having distinct separate experiences in a shared workspace. So the value of thinking without action is similar to running a computer simulation. It improves your odds of a success through virtual practice. A classic example is in baseball, imagining yourself hitting the ball. Your batting average improves merely by virtue of visualizing it.

So, the thing that to all appearances is accomplishing nothing (thinking) is actually an important component to successfully doing. This causes something of a dilemma to the modern knowledge worker who has to demonstrate him or herself as being productive. This “thinking” just doesn’t look productive–and worse still, the “writing” or public blogging that can stand in for that thinking can be interpreted as non-work-related, or goofing off, when in reality it is the essential tool.

Consequently, I am finding my justification for prolific blogging, and giving myself the mental green light to proceed with all the writing that I feel needs to be done. Each time I write, I do it with a public or semi-public audience in mind. I partition off all the areas of my work that doesn’t give out proprietary knowledge to my competitors, or that I wish to altruistically give out none-the-less, and that goes onto MikeLev.in, ShankServer.org or now… WhatsaMetaFor.com.

In the past, I’ve launched new sites quite frequently, and never followed through. So, what makes me think this time will be any different? I have enough buckets to drop any of my writing into whenever I feel inspired. I even have a site for the proprietary knowledge that is only to be shared with my co-workers at the digital marketing agency where I work. And the super-private stuff is to never be published even has a place. The idea is to write, do, write, do, and whenever you can write with a public audience in mind, do so. It’s much more valuable writing.

And keep up that think/do rhythm. Don’t sacrifice the do for the think. Do “pays for” thinking, right as thinking enables doing. And I must always be thinking or doing, because it’s that idle time that’s the enemy and lets the years slip by without the big stuff getting done. If you’ve gone too long on thinking without doing, there’s a penalty to pay. In the short-term, it may be disappointing your bosses or stakeholders. In the long term, it’s not achieving your goals.