Low-hanging Fruit

One of my favorite productivity thinkers and writers is Julie Morgenstern, author of Never Check E-Mail In the Morning. This book offers a powerful message about setting priorities and shutting out the world each morning to tackle difficult assignments. While I admire and attempt to embrace the strategy in my own life, I often find myself afraid of difficult assignments.  

Since the release of Good Busy, I have begun to imagine additional words and practices to add to the existing ten. Low-hanging fruit is the next practice, one that causes us to ask: “Is it possible to transform our experience of difficult assignments?”

I like to imagine difficult assignments as if they were fruit trees. As I approach the tree, I pick the low-hanging fruit first. Then, I scan the rest of the tree for other ripe fruit. I move with greater ease through difficult assignments when I focus on what I can harvest in each moment. 

Low-hanging fruit resonates with Tom Rankin’s sliver practice in Good Busy but with a twist. It serves as a strategy for getting big projects done by surrounding them with achievable tasks. Instead of thinking you must toil away at a difficult project, you think to yourself, “How can the conditions be such that I can move forward with greater ease?”

The goal of the low-hanging fruit practice is to “pick fruit” when they are ripe. You pick the low hanging fruit because they are ripe and ready to be eaten. You return to the tree each day to harvest more. You do not passively wait for ripeness. You cultivate readiness as you work under the shade of the tree.

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