Drop the things that bore you and only do what is necessary.
That's it. Letting go of the things that don't excite you and only doing what is absolutely needed. They are the two greatest productivity tools that you can learn. There are many times we think we have to do something, but in reality we don't.
The only way you are actually going to accomplish a task is if you are more excited about doing it than any alternative action. If you love to do something, you are going to want to do a lot of it. If it bores you then you are going to avoid it.
Too Simple? Maybe it is, but it works. It works because you are tapping into your most primal instinct - do what feels good.
You will write a lot if you want to do it more than riding a bike, watching TV, or hanging out with friends. I love to do all those things, but I probably write more than I do anything else because I love to get ideas out. It means more to me than catching my favorite TV show.
You are going to work hard if you enjoy doing the job more than alternative options. If you choose to coast, you do this because the desire to be productive isn't stimulating. The need to create is weak. It could be that the work is tedious or your boss never shows appreciation. Whatever the reason, it's wrecking your ability to be productive.
I write to find new parts of myself, which gets me energized. I use those writings to reach others and hopefully excite them. I become passionate on two levels
Part 1 - Internal Excitement
I never write about what doesn't interest me because I know that it won't interest others. Even if I know it will make a great blog post I would rather put it aside and do something I really want to think and write about. I will run with any thought or idea that has any flicker of hope to start a fire. I'll write about emotional development, ants walking on a flower, business development, a poem about dancing around my home naked, career advice, and my dog because when that spark is burning within me I use it; otherwise it fades fast.
Part 2 - How this action affects the "Future Me"
I have to think about what I do and how it affects the "future me." Living in the moment is great, but it doesn't always help build my reputation as a person who can help people improve their working life. When I'm working, I'm there in that moment, but I also seek to understand how this action fits into the way I want the "future me" to be perceived.
Drinking a few beers during lunch may feel good at the time, but the side effects hinder those feel good receptors in your brain that are waiting to be filled with natural dopamine. In the moment of the alcohol buzz, you feel good, but when you get back to work the sluggishness takes over and all you feel like doing is taking a nap. Every choice has its consequences. When I write, I'm building a portfolio of content that is shaping my future. I may physically feel better going for a walk or practicing a little Yoga, but it doesn't help refine my future as much as writing, so I make a choice to write more because it still feels good and improves the "future me."
The Small Catch that Anchors Your Productivity
The particular task that you are doing may bore you, but sometimes you do have to make small sacrifices in light of the "bigger picture." If you are a writer you may hate editing, but you understand that in order to get that deep buzz of excitement that hits your soul, you have to sacrifice a few hours or days of pain to achieve the results you want. This sweet spot is where most great business people, artists, and creators keep returning to find success. The possibility for more future excitement gets that energy going and it's tough for them to stop.
The CEOs that get themselves into positions of power do it by digging in and working on something that excites them and has potential. They may start off running around like chickens with their heads cut off for the first few years, but they know they are building a foundation for something more exciting - the ability to make good decisions and affect other people's lives. If your passion is lacking then the work suffers and failure is the likely result.
I'm not talking about the failure to keep a job. Most of us can coast, do the minimum and keep receiving our paychecks, but that's not where the fun is. Work becomes a chore and that constitutes a failure on your part. So it's up to you to match your internal (gut) excitement with the future potential to get the most out of your projects.
For example, when you envision a clean work space, you probably see yourself sitting in your chair with a smile on your face, just grabbing that report or pen because everything is organized. This thought may get you excited and willing to take action, but you won't sustain that energy if you can't clearly see how much it will help you.
Productivity will create happiness if you strive to achieve both parts:
- Internal Excitement
- Potential Future Excitement
Both feel good, but when they are combined, you will produce great results.
* If you can't stop yawning it's not this post, it's that baby. It made me yawn like 10 times while I formated it and posted this article.
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Image courtesy of Steve Webel