I used to have a quotation on the wall of my classroom when I was a teacher that has been attributed to various different people, but reads: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

The point of the quotation is that to have any kind of success in life that isn’t luck-dependent, you have to be ready. That looks different depending on the situation, but (for me at least) involves thinking about different scenarios, what could play out, etc.

This post, found via HN, is from a developer thinking about software projects. But the point he makes is universal: preparing effectively means that you can get on and focus on delivering without having to keep stopping.

Motivation is the willingness to want to do something. This is of course an important first step in potentially being productive. We are better at things we want to do, rather than things we’re forced to do by others, or by our own self discipline.

But motivation is nothing more than that. It helps us start, but it doesn’t mean we’ll finish, or even produce half of what we want to. Even when we are motivated, if we don’t make enough progress our motivation has a way of epically [sic] disappearing.


Knowing how to make progress and making progress are two different things, but we often conflate them and treat them as the same thing. We basically jump into the task and start.


Productivity doesn’t come from feeling motivated, it comes from knowing what you need to do in enough detail that you can complete it without continually stopping and losing your focus.

Source: To Be Productive, Be Prepared | Martin Rue

Image: Brett Jordan