Why do you work so hard?
If you've seen any of my content, you've undoubtedly noticed that I've think and write a lot about priorities and productivity. When I look back on my writing, I definitely tend to go in streaks about particular topics, but I know that if I'm dealing with something, you are too.
One common theme I focus on frequently related to priorities and productivity is "the why." Why do you work so hard? What are you trying to create or make possible with the job or role you have and are you actually doing it or is it just a pipe dream?
A lot of people take sales roles or start businesses because of the financial possibilities that come along with them. I also know a lot of people that are so busy making money that they don't have any time to spend it. Doesn't that defeat the purpose?
One of the best things about what we do for a living is that we don't have a time clock to punch. While we don't have anyone to make sure we punch in, we almost never punch out. If there's something that clock gives us, it's boundaries. Not surprisingly, our parents' generation didn't seem to struggle so mightily with the concept of work/life balance, did they?
Adding an extra day to a business trip is not a vacation. Working remotely from a beach or a golf course is not a vacation. While they are perks of the job, let's stop pretending that they're ideal. Stop convincing yourself that the whole enterprise will fall apart if you're not constantly connected.
My Dad always told me that I needed to make time for the important stuff. I used to disagree with him because I was a kid and I didn't want to hear it. Now I agree with the concept, but with an asterisk. You can't make time, we all get the same 24 hours, but you can protect it. The key is knowing what to protect and then being diligent about it.
My kids learned to ride their bikes when my wife and I finally decided to set aside the time to learn how to teach them and then help them practice. When we set that time aside, they learned very quickly. Now a whole new world of possibilities is open in front of us. Evenings after dinner are more fun and quite frankly, enjoying those evenings are why I work all day.
I often challenge you to think about what's really important to your work. In this post, I'm asking you to consider what’s important in your life and challenging you to act on those priorities. Set some boundaries.
For example, at least three nights this week, don’t work after dinner. Get what you need to be done by 6pm, then shut down. Spend the rest of the evening with your family or friends. Read a book. Take a walk. Open the nice bottle of wine you've been saving... Do the thing that you want your career to make possible. Make "someday" today.
p.s. I ran across this Forbes article from Pia Silva about focusing on the really important things in your business, and how you can get a LOT of work done in a relatively short period of time. It takes some discipline and a clear idea of what's really important and what isn't, but think of what becomes possible... The article echoes my own thoughts this week, and while it may not be possible for many of you to only be "on" for five hours a day, the concepts are worth thinking about. How can you implement smaller periods of focus to increase your productivity, and not constantly feel as if there's always something to do?