Book Review: "Will It Make the Boat Go Faster?"

Simon Whittaker, a mentor and friend I've come to respect deeply, recommended the book "Will It Make the Boat Go Faster?" to me a while ago. This straightforward but impactful read has played a significant role in reshaping my approach to life and work over the past few months.

The central theme of the book revolves around focusing on what genuinely matters in achieving your objectives, stripping away the distractions and inconsequential tasks. It asks the simple but powerful question: will what you're doing right now make the boat (your goals, your life) go faster?


In the context of my role as a Cloud Architect at $BIG_CORP, where I juggle several projects, ongoing learning, qualifications, and mentoring, this question has been a guiding light. It's easy to get bogged down with the daily grind, endless meetings, and a stream of emails. The idea of "making the boat go faster" acts like a lens, helping me focus on tasks that truly contribute to project success or my personal growth. For example, instead of participating in yet another inconsequential meeting, I've found more value in dedicating that time to mentor junior colleagues or deepening my expertise through certifications. These actions have a direct impact on making the "boat" go faster.

The same principle applies to my personal life. I've always been one to procrastinate, often pushing off tasks like home chores/repairs, exercise, or even calling up old friends. Implementing the question "Will it make the boat go faster?" has made me weigh the importance of these tasks differently. Now, hoovering that floor or finally getting around to that walk makes more sense. They're not just chores; they contribute to a better quality of life, my personal "boat."

The application of this simple mantra has sparked a change in how I view challenges and tasks. As stated earlier in another post, I've adopted a new personal mantra: "If it's not bad, it's good." This perspective keeps me from getting caught in a cycle of overthinking and procrastination. Not everything has to be perfect. If an action or decision is not detrimental, then it's likely contributing to progress in some form.

So, if you find yourself caught in the swirl of life's numerous demands, asking if your current activity will make your "boat go faster" can be a surprisingly effective way to clarify your priorities. It's been a game-changer for me, and I've started to notice significant improvements in both my professional and personal life.