Stop Being Busy and Start Being Productive. It’s the Meaningful Work – Not the Busywork – That Counts.

Busy Work

In a world of infinite information and endless distractions it’s incredibly easy to invest time in ways that aren’t productive or meaningful for our lives.

We get caught up checking our Facebooks for notifications, our Twitters for Tweets, our e-mails for more e-mails… We scroll through Tumblr and Pinterest for pictures and content on walls that never end… Heck! Every social media network now has walls of updates that never end!

If we wanted to, we could stay ‘busy‘ all day and get no meaningful work done.

Moreover, because busywork is more prominent now than ever before, we could also never be done with our work if we wanted.

Seth Godin elaborates:  “Before, when your shift was done, you were finished. When the in-box was empty, when the forms were processed, you could stop. Now, of course, there’s always one more tweet to make, one more post to write, one more words with friends move to complete. There’s one more e-mail message you can write, one more lens you can construct, one more comment you can respond to. If you want to, you can be never finished.

I’m afraid to admit that, before I worked up the willpower to open up this page and start writing this blog post, I spent around 25 minutes procrastinating and doing busywork myself…

I interacted with my Facebook timeline for 10 minutes, opened up my e-mail for a quick glance and acted busy for about 10 minutes there, then went back to Facebook for another 5 minute scroll, and finally opened up this post.

…What’s scary is that this is not uncommon for me and that I easily could have continued scrolling, delaying, and doing busywork for much longer, and would have likely stayed just as entertained throughout.

We have to be more conscious of the way we spend our time.

…Because once we spend it, we don’t get it back.

We answer call after call, respond to every text message, reply to the endless e-mails, watch countless YouTube videos, tune into the breaking news, entertain the latest gossip…

And all of that time adds up.

It’s getting easier and easier to get distracted with each new day which makes it harder and harder for all of us to focus on work that matters:  work that involves critical thinking, staring at blank pages, reading real pages, meeting with people important to your vision, taking action and producing art, perfecting your art, making connections, and making a difference.

We have to keep the main thing the main thing and to prioritize our art and meaningful work to be accomplished first throughout our days – otherwise we’ll end up doing our important work last.

And last is hardly optimal.  Last is rushed.  Last is unfocused.  Last is tired.  Last is procrastinated.  Last is unimportant.

Ten years from now as you look back and reflect on how you spent your time, I doubt you’ll wish you spent more time checking Facebook notifications or surfing the ‘net.

Think about it like this:

How many minutes would you say you spent in excess on social media sites, e-mail, and cell phones…?

I say, ‘in excess’ knowing that social media, e-mail, and cell phone use each have their place and don’t need to be cut out from life altogether.   But rather, they become a platform for distraction and time-draining, unimportant, excessive use.

Let’s say you spend an average of 15 minutes per day using your cell phone, checking your e-mail, and scrolling through your social media sites in excess – A big under-estimate I would say.

Well, 15 minutes per day times 365 days in a year would give you 5,475 total minutes spent in excess!

That’s over 90 hours of total time! …Drained on unimportant tasks.

Think about what you might be able to accomplish in that 90 hours…

That’s enough time to create some pretty incredible work.

That painting?  That book?  That course?  That blog?  That idea? …90 hours could sure help get that going.

I could have been a master, but I chose to watch TV instead.

How might you re-claim your 90 (or 10,000) hours?

What platform do you find yourself using in excess that you could cut back on?

What might you create in that re-claimed time?

… I used my re-claimed time to create this very blog you’re reading today!

Who could you tell to help you stay accountable?

What action steps can you take right now to make this happen?

…What are you waiting for?

(Strategies and ideas welcome in the comment section below!)

4 Responses to Stop Being Busy and Start Being Productive. It’s the Meaningful Work – Not the Busywork – That Counts.

  • Meaningful,I enjoyed reading it

  • Thank you for the wake up call. I find myself guilty of this every day. Time to reclaim my day!

    • Even if you make one little change that you can stick with for the rest of the year, you’ll have saved a significant amount of time for tasks that are more meaningful to you!! It’s a great strategy and I hope you find success with it 🙂

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