Paul Jarvis is an author and designer and founder of Fathom Analytics. He has also worked with Silicon Valley startups, pro-sports athletes, Fortune 500 companies, and the world’s biggest entrepreneurs.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?
I grew up just outside of Toronto, ON, Canada in the burbs. My childhood couldn’t have been more normal, down to the paper route and family dinners at 5 pm sharp each day.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
Work is important, but it’s not that important. In my 20s I lived to work and did everything I could to work as much as possible. Much later I realized that if I was working to work more, I didn’t really have a life and the work wasn’t helping me achieve anything.
Now I work to live, so I try to finish work as quickly as possible so I can enjoy the rest of my day. It’s much more fun, and much more motivating too. I love my work, but only because it’s now a single part of my life, not the only part.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
Challenging the idea that I had to grow my company because it did well. I’ve never hired an employee, even though as a designer I had months-long waiting lists, and the way I structure the products I sell now is so I can best run and support them without additional support.
Just because your business does well, doesn’t mean you’ve got to scale up in all directions. I’m so glad I stayed small since it’s allowed me to increase revenue without expenses and pivot when I needed to.
What is your morning routine?
I wake up (without an alarm) typically between 5 and 6 am. I make a coffee, and while it’s brewing I think about what I need to do. Then I get to work. There’s no real routine, other than coffee. Some days I’ll write, some I’ll design, some I’ll get right into meetings. My routine is really just doing what needs doing and taking breaks.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Question things. Especially things you read from “experts”. The difference between information and wisdom is as wide as the ocean, and unless you internalize what you learn and question if it will for your own business or life, and how it could be implementing, you’re stuck on a rowboat.
The internet probably has every bit of information ever that you could need. It doesn’t make you smarter, it just makes you able to find answers to questions. To really thrive, you’ve got to question then apply that knowledge.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I have no task manager, project management software, or crazy todo list. I rarely make long-term plans either. Each day I think of the top 1-3 tasks I need to accomplish and work towards them being finished. If I can’t remember everything, I’ve taken on too much.
To be efficient, I single-task. So if I’m writing, that’s the only thing open on my computer. No email, no social, and I turned off any/all notifications on my devices years ago. That way I can work quickly, without interruption.
‘I have no task manager, project management software, or crazy todo list.’
I also work when my body/mind is most productive—for me, it’s early in the AM and then again right after dinner. I take as many breaks as I can to get outside and into nature (I live in the woods, so that’s pretty easy).
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
I’ve re-read every Haruki Murakami book at least 3 times. I just love the way he tells stories and builds interesting characters. The worlds he can spin with his words are just captivating to me, and I can easily get lost in them, even if I know the story well.
One his books that stands out to me is A Wild Sheep Chase.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
I’m actually not a fan of quotes. In fact, I hate them. I think they’re ruining our lives 🙂