Monday, September 17, 2012

Three Ways to Get the Important Work Done

This morning I was very productive. I got up early and threw a load of laundry in the washer. While my clothes were washing I set up the ironing board to iron out the wrinkles in my work shirts, taking a quick break to move the load from the washer to the dryer. My shirts ironed, I put the ironing board and iron away and folded my now-dry clothes. I then went downstairs to do some dishes from the previous night's dinner, recycle the accumulated junk mail on the kitchen island, and file important papers. A quick trip to the gym and the grocery store after that, I was back at home by 11am, surfing the web.

I thought I was being productive…except I wasn't.

The invoices for my business that I have been intending to get done for days hadn't been sent out, I did not update my LinkedIn profile like I had intended to, and I still need to write copy for my business website.

Welcome to the realm of productive procrastination. We tend to justify and rationalize the important things we put off by doing other "important" things that, really, are distractions.

What are you putting off to better your career? Perhaps it's completing your resume, talking with your supervisor about your future with the company, enrolling in that class that will provide the education to advance your career, or any other thing that will get you closer to where you want to be personally and professionally.

Distractions do not help. Yes, the laundry has to get done and you have to file. But not at the expense of your dreams. Here are three methods to make your time not just productive, but meaningful.

1. Jump In: Close your eyes and do it. Shut out the noises in your mind that are holding you back, focus on your breathing, and simply start what you have been putting off. You will probably find that it isn't as bad as you thought it would be; in fact, it is much, much easier.

2. Dwell on the benefits: Instead of dwelling on the pain associated with that important activity, think about the pleasure: what will you get out of it? What kind of future are you creating for yourself by doing this? How good would it feel to have it completed? Get yourself to a place of resonance, where you future is shining bright and you are excited about what you are to do, then act.

3. Get to know your saboteur: ah, the saboteur…the voice in your head that tries to protect you, tries to keep you the same and gets louder when you get closer to what you want. Spend some time getting to know your saboteur and its tells to know how to best combat it.

Just because you are doing something doesn't mean that you are doing something. Devote your time to those pursuits that will benefit your career long-term.

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