What Matters Most Must Never Be At the Mercy of What Matters Least.
As an avid runner, I’m run six days a week in my neighborhood. Today’s run was a treat, a beautiful fall morning, cool and crisp with a slight dampness from the dew. My pace was faster as my body adapted to the chilly temperature. Fall is my favorite time of the year to run.
My mind is most creative during my runs and I am always thinking about something. My mind settles into a quiet meditation on the longer runs as I have sorted through my thoughts by the third mile.
This morning, I was thinking about Work Simply by Carson Tate, a book I picked up at the library two weeks ago. At first, I read through a couple of pages and put the book down.
I thought, “just another how to be productive” book. I always give books a second chance, and while waiting for my son at band practice, I opened the book again and started reading. I realized Tate’s book was different.
In the book, she talks about how we’ve been trained to use planners and the amount of time we can waste managing our to-do lists. Her words started working their way through my mind as I thought about what she was saying.
During the run, I kept thinking about how much time we waste inputting data in our planners, especially scheduling every tiny detail of our life down to five minutes to meditate, five minutes to walk around our cube, five minutes to plan a strategy for clients.
Back when we were transitioning from the farm to the factory, managers were taught that workers could not be allowed to think for themselves. We, the workers, must be told what to do every minute of the work day. This mentality has lead to our modern day busyness, must stay busy, must stay busy…
We are obsessed with busywork in American.
It is our badge of honor, the Holy Grail of cubeville or Starbuck’s. We write in our emails and text messages – “I’m slammed!, My bandwidth is tapped!, and I’m swamped!” We work diligently to complete our planner checklist. We compare notes on how many emails are in our inbox as if it is a ranking in our importance. More emails = higher pay?
Our ego and self-worth are wrapped up in our busyness. Being busy is not the same as being productive. There is a difference. I think about the productive individuals who lived hundreds of years ago. They did not have any cool tech tools to help them and they produced an enormous amount of work.
Dozens of thoughts filled my mind as I connected the dots and I thought “what if, we didn’t assign time to projects? Before you freak out, I know what you’re thinking, “How could we bill clients? and “How would we know if we’re profitable or not?”
What I am suggesting is that we work on the projects instead of spending so much time writing down every detail into our planners. What if we spent time focusing on the project and what needs to be done? No fancy rules just focus our time on what is important.
Since reading Tate’s book, I’ve stopped scheduling ridge time slots for client work; I am referring to work completed outside the client’s office. I am more relaxed and can focus on what I need complete instead of feeling guilty for ignoring my planner.
We’ve been brainwashed to believe the only way we can be productive is to create highly detailed strict; factory styled schedule to dictate our day.
We think there is no other way to work. I question every part of how I plan my day. I have two whiteboards in the office. One board, I write my weekly schedule. The second whiteboard is where I list critical action items such as add Google Analytics to the new website, schedule my car for service, and so forth. You get the idea.
I have greater confidence in my ability to get work done. This past week, I have started writing in the mornings immediately following my runs. I know without a doubt this is the most creative time of the day. I have written more in three days in less time.
Our brains are not binary, we need time to think. We cannot turn our thinking on and off like a light bulb.
I believe our planners are obsolete as we are not factory workers anymore. Our world and how we work is undergoing a significant transformation. We’re knowledge workers and innovation and growth are not derived from breaking our day into tiny slots of time. Innovation comes from our creativity and having time think and solve difficult problems.
To-do lists have a place when organizing specific tasks and projects, these lists are not meant to be carried with us each day, depleting our mental energy along the way.
Nor will our productivity increase by using more planners, more scheduling apps, or creating more busy work, these are all leftovers from the Industrial Revolution Era.
I’ll leave you with a thought – a person can be organized without writing and scheduling every detail into a planner.