Note: I wrote this two days ago. Sharing this because I think we get too caught up in playing productivity olympics.
I’m sitting at my desk to get some work done.
‘Some work done’
What does that even mean? What constitutes work? Is this work? Writing these words that you’re reading now, is that work? Is it work if I’m not being paid for it? Am I distracting myself away from something more important?
Yeah, I am.
I’ve been doing it for the last 2 hours. I sat down 2 hours ago to get some work done, and now I’m writing this post. I’m doing this to trick myself into believing that I am being productive with my time. It’s working.
In the last 2 hours, I…
Ate 2 spoonful’s of ice cream
Wrote a tweet but ended up not tweeting it because I thought, eh.
Watched 4 seconds of an algorithmically recommended YouTube video.
And then I clicked on a bunch of random folders on my hard drive, I guess, you know, just to be sure they still work? — they still work.
What I struggle with most in this work-from-home-solopreneur-freelancer-creator-everyday-is-wear-pajamas-to-work-day-world is intent. On my worst days (today), I find it hard to decide what I am going to do and what I am not going to do. When I lose focus, I make up for it by doing stuff that tricks my brain into believing that Wow I sure am getting a lot of work done stuffing 2 spoonfuls of Phish Food ice cream down my throat. What’s the answer to this problem? Should I schedule ice cream time in advance? Make a little Gcal reminder that says ICE CREAM, color it pink, and repeat it every Tuesday? As ridiculous as it sounds, this seems like the only solution.
I’ve treated productivity as a force that comes to me on a whim. I’ve believed that if I merely sit at my desk, “work” will flow out of my fingers like magic out of a wand. That never happens. I need to know, in advance, why I am sitting at my desk. Better still, I need to know why I’m not sitting at my desk. I need to know what’s off limits. If I lose focus, if I start twiddling my thumbs, if YouTube becomes more interesting than whatever I’m working on, then I should know that it’s time to stop.
We need to be careful, diligent, and clear about what we are going to do when we decide that it’s time to work. We need, also, to sprinkle our idleness with just a dash of intentionality. Know why you’re resting, know why you’re moving about.
One should relax without guilt.
One should work without reservation.