If I am not getting my work done, I might kid myself that I am getting other – interesting – things done. But that is rarely the case. If I am reading the news when I should be doing my accounts, then I tend to stick to news stories that take very little effort to read. If I start reading an article on something I really do find interesting then a funny thing happens. The more attention I give to the interesting article, the more I become aware that there is something more important that I should be doing. If I am reading something I only have to give half my attention to – I can keep kidding myself that I don’t need to be working.
I feel grateful that I do have some awareness of my working patterns, and of what feels like ‘healthy’ working and what doesn’t. If you’re not sure whether you are working too much, or too little or in a scattered or focused way, it’s hard to know what working better would look like.
For me I work best when I have a clear idea of what tasks need doing, and of what should be done first.
Sometimes these are more interesting tasks that others. But I know from experience that I will be more satisfied if I complete the tasks in the right order, rather than putting off all the boring work to another day (down that road lies madness, and missed deadlines).
When I sit at my desk simply because it’s a weekday and between the hours of 9am and 5pm, but without a clear idea of what I’m supposed to be doing, I can end up spending hours doing nothing at all.
In those moments I ask myself, is there something better I could be doing? The answer is invariably yes. Sometimes that leads me to doing some work that I had been putting off – and sometimes it leads me to reading some poetry in the garden.
What do I mean by something ‘better’? I mean something that supports my vision of myself in the world and the work I want to be doing, or I feel called to do. Sometimes the something better is writing a blog post, sometimes it’s preparing an advert and sometimes it really is doing my accounts.
Sometimes it is giving myself a break.
Last week I wrote about tuning into your quiet voice as a way of finding out what you should be doing.
This week I encourage you to think about what keeps you doing what you should be doing.
If you need some help – sign up to my 31 Days of Positive Action. Each day you’ll receive an email reminding you to do your important work, and helping you to think about how you can keep doing what is important to you.