A friend of mine has just spent six weeks working on something that has now turned out to be a waste of time. His friends had questioned him on the effectiveness of the work that he was doing (particularly as he was working long hours including over weekends). He is the same friend, in fact, that gave me a copy of Cal Newport’s Deep Work that points out that an overworked brain can’t filter the relevant from the irrelevant. So why is he in this situation where he has, in fact, spent a huge amount of time on irrelevant work?
I probed him a little on this and he replied that he thinks that if he’s not busy, then he’s not being productive. In this case, it was the exact opposite! His online business would have been more productive if he hadn’t made all of those irrelevant changes to it. In fact these changes appear to have confused customers and not helped at all.
There’s a big lesson here. Whether our goal is to run a successful business, or an impactful project, or a happy household – we shouldn’t equate being busy with moving us towards our goal. Sometimes not doing anything is actually the right action.
Are there any activities in your life that you are doing just to feel busy? If so, could you try not doing these? It may feel very strange at first to slow down. Our society is so obsessed with being busy that it almost feels wrong to not be busy. But, remember, slowing down can really help you achieve your life and career goals.
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