Understanding Speed and Velocity: Saying "NO" to the Non-Essential - Farnam Street - Deepstash

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Speed vs Velocity

Speed vs Velocity

  • Velocity measures displacement. Speed is the distance traveled over time.
  • A lot of people think in terms of one dimension (speed) and are passed by people who think in multiple dimensions (velocity).
  • You need to distinguish between tasks that offer a lot of speed and those that offer velocity.


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How to use this at work?

  • Saying yes to everything is a quick road to mediocrity.
  • You need to distinguish between tasks that offer a lot of speed and those that offer velocity.
  • Busywork is doing work that keeps you occupied but doesn’t get you where you want to go.
  • Instead of asking how many tasks you can tackle given your working hours. Ask how many you can ditch given what you must do to excel.
  • Doing more isn’t always moving you ahead.


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Three ways to increase velocity

  1. To the extent possible, ruthlessly shave away the unnecessary tasks, priorities, meetings, and BS.
  2. Don’t rely on your willpower to say no; instead, create systems that help you fend off distractions.
  3. Say “no” to your boss: Explain that saying no means that you’re going to be better at the tasks that are most important to your job, and tie those tasks to your boss’s performance.


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I'm passionate about making things fun and simple. Love working out.


It’s tempting to think that in order to be a valuable team player, you should say “yes” to every request and task that is asked of you.

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