don’t boil the ocean

A phrase my previous manager and now mentor used to say to focus the team was ‘don’t boil the ocean.’

His point is that meaningful work isn’t achieved by trying to solve everything a once.

In fact, attempting to do that — attempting to boil the ocean — leads to very little progress if any.

Instead, it’s infinitely more effective to focus intensely on one important problem, implement an acceptable solution, and then move on to the next.

I may not always feel like you’re doing as much work, but you’ll certainly end up accomplishing more.



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William Liao

William Liao


Taiwanese American, daily blogger of ideas about impactful work in service of others, photographer (