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"Out of Scope"

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This week, I have created a new page takuti.me/now. This will be a place where I share what I'm doing and focusing on, updated roughly once every 1-3 months. The idea is inspired by Derek Sivers's /now page movement; the movement has spread rapidly, and many people are actively sharing their immediate priorities.

Think of what you’d tell a friend you hadn’t seen in a year. [...] That’s what a now page is for.

I see this page is particularly useful not only for providing general updates about myself but more as a tool for maximizing my focus level and saying NO on a variety of occasions, as Derek Sivers also pointed out in the article.

I strongly believe deciding what NOT to do is equally or more important than choosing what to do. Without having solid criteria of rejection, there are infinite amounts of "opportunities" in our day-to-day life, and they simply confuse and disable us to make meaningful progress toward the ultimate goal we're originally trying to achieve. Notice that the point overlaps with what I recently described in "Definition of Done", and this is another underappreciated concept in project execution"Out of Scope"1.

In fact, there are so many distractions that make what's truly important invisible:

  • You may need to work on unimportant tasks at work, or you are invited to unnecessary meetings;
  • Your friend may invite you to some fancy random gatherings on a weekend;
  • There is so much fun content on the internet, including videos, music, social networks, and games.

I would check my /now page under these circumstances and question myself as "Is this aligned with my current scope?" I could also directly share the link with a friend, colleague, or stranger to ask their understanding.

I'm not saying we have to discard all of the above, and I do agree there are some serendipitous outcomes and positive effects of interacting with something/someone that seems to bring no immediate benefit. That said, we cannot take everything, and it's nearly impossible to say YES to all of them while making sure you always prioritize the most essential thing at the highest rank.

Dr. Joseph Konstan, the legendary professor in the field of recommender systems at University of Minnesota, previously stated "Serendipity is a combination of what's relevant to you and what you didn't expect" on a podcast episode, and "if there is an irrelevant item you didn't expect, it's just bad"2. Clarifying what matters most and what's relevant to me should come first, and serendipity follows.

Life is short. We can be more picky with the /now page so we don't overlook the truly important ones.

1. Consider "life" is also one type of "project" in the broad sense.
2. Quotes are from my memory; they aren't the exact same as his own words.



Life & Work Business Design

  See also

Serendipity: It's Relevant AND Unexpected
"Definition of Done"
The Producer-Consumer Gap


Last updated: 2022-08-06

  Author: Takuya Kitazawa

Takuya Kitazawa is a freelance software developer, previously working at a Big Tech and Silicon Valley-based start-up company where he wore multiple hats as a full-stack software developer, machine learning engineer, data scientist, and product manager. At the intersection of technological and social aspects of data-driven applications, he is passionate about promoting the ethical use of information technologies through his mentoring, business consultation, and public engagement activities. See CV for more information, or contact at [email protected].

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