Our society is obsessed with productivity and optimizing our lives — having the perfect routine, perfect diet, perfect productivity system, perfect todo app, and more.
It’s an ideal that not only doesn’t exist, it’s harmful to our health and happiness. And what’s more, it’s completely misguided — what many of us really want to do with our work is do meaningful work and have an impact on the world.
So how can we let go of the focus on productivity and optimizing, while still doing meaningful work and having an impact?
Simplify. Focus on the important, meaningful tasks instead of churning. And actually dive into those meaningful tasks instead of procrastinating because of the uncertainty that comes with them.
Look at your task list and email/messages inbox and pick the most meaningful tasks — there’s a good chance you’ve been putting them off. Instead, when you don’t go to your favorite distractions, you are likely to churn through smaller tasks, answering messages, checking on inboxes and updates.
This is because meaningful, important tasks come with great uncertainty. We habitually respond to this uncertainty by avoiding it, going to distraction and easier tasks that make us feel less uncertain.
But the result is that we’re churning through a lot of busywork, spending our days doing a lot but not getting a lot accomplished.
Instead, we can simplify:
- Pick meaningful tasks, and focus on those.
- Create space by clearing away distractions.
- Letting the busywork get pushed until later in the day, when we set aside room for those.
- And putting our entire being into the meaningful, important tasks.
Imagine clearing out space in your day by simplifying, letting go of the small tasks, not constantly answering messages and emails, and instead giving yourself the generous gift of focusing.
You’d get the meaningful tasks done, and feel like your work is more meaningful. Those tasks would make a greater impact, and over time, you’d have a great impact on the world.
All because you simplified and focused.
This month, I challenge you to join me in the Dive Into the Important Tasks.
Originally published on Zen Habits.
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