A big part of living on purpose and making the best use of our time is knowing what we are doing and why we are doing it.
“Busyness as Proxy for Productivity: In the absence of clear indicators of what it means to be productive and valuable in their jobs, many knowledge workers turn back toward an industrial indicator of productivity: doing lots of stuff in a visible manner.” Cal Newport, Deep Work
Newport wrote a book about work that actually moves us forward, and the quotation above is describing a major block to that kind of work. Busy for busy’s sake does not get you anywhere. It is spinning in a circle. Busy is not the same thing as productive.
If you know your end goal, your priorities, your calling, then you know where you are going. You have your why.
Now when you look at your activities, you can more easily see what fits with your why and what doesn’t.
If it doesn’t fit with your why, move it out of the way, off the road. You need that room for your actual work.
If the activity fits with a minor priority, make sure it is not consuming the majority of your effort. Move it to the side but not off the road.
If it does fit with your priorities, your why, you are either continually supporting the goal (like never-ending laundry or dishes) or moving closer to the goal. These activities are productive, not just busy.
Please, I beg you, don’t be busy just to look busy. Think about what you are doing and push toward the goal. That is a good day’s work!
Do you do things on purpose or do you allow yourself to be carried along by the stream?
When we look at our days, we can throw up our hands and give up, saying that it’s out of control and there’s nothing we can do.
When we look at our days, we can accept what is out of our control and take responsibility for the rest.
The catch is that we are responsible for how we use our time, whether we respond well or try to avoid that responsibility. The choice is ours to work diligently or not. The attitude we have is also our choice.
Think about this:
Being carried along by flowing water works great IF you want to go where it’s going. If you have another direction or endpoint in mind, the flow is working against you.
So do you know where you should go?
The danger in floating along without knowing the destination is that we may have an unpleasant surprise or disaster coming any minute.
If you have thought about where you are going and what it takes to get there, you are set up to handle the surprises that do come along the way. With purpose, you have reasons and guides for how you adjust. You can keep moving in the right direction, even if that involves a little detour.
- You can love your neighbor with purposeful acts, or you can wish that an occasion comes up at a convenient time.
- You can make time for priorities, or you can hope that they fit in somewhere.
- You can set up an action plan for a responsibility, or you can assume that it will all work out somehow.
- You can work to be kind with deliberate acts and words, or you can just want to be kind.
Why are you doing what you are doing today?