Do Your Actions Reflect Your Intentions?

September 30, 2019

“Busy doesn’t get you what you seek. Busy isn’t the point. Value creation is.” ~ Seth Godin

Have you ever had a full day, yet when someone asks what you did, you respond with “Nothing. I did nothing.”

Of course that’s not true. You did something. Probably a lot of somethings. What you’re really saying is that you didn’t do anything you would deem worthy of noting, you didn’t  felt like you accomplished anything that gives you that “Yes!” feeling or that made a difference to you or someone else. Or to use Godin’s quote, you don’t believe you created/performed anything of value.

In last week’s Blab-o-Tips newsletter, I talked about Intentions and Implementation getting us to Productivity. Having a plan really makes a difference for me and the more specific I am, the better I do. In November 2018 I wrote a post called “Busy vs. Productive: How Can You Tell?” and today I want to expand on that by taking a look back at what I do with a critical (in the best sense of the word) eye.

We do a lot of tasks each day. Some of them are more important than others. But how do we ensure that at least a few of the tasks we do each day feel valuable?

Monitor Your Tasks

Here’s what I know: I do a lot of stuff to avoid other stuff. And then I wonder why I don’t have enough time to work on one of my creative projects. So I spent one day looking at what I did and categorized my activities and saw that a large chunk of it falls into what I would call “Writing – admin,” which is responding to email related to speaking requests, teaching, critiques and consults, etc. These are necessary tasks, but I often let them rule my day, taking my focus in other directions and then I find myself without time for my creative work.

Action Plan: Set aside 45 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays to work on these types of tasks. It’s now on my calendar and I don’t feel guilty for not getting back to people on the other days of the week.

 Ask an Important Question

I try to ask this question at the end of each day not only to gather information, but also to help shape the following day. I don’t like to see that I’ve made the same mistakes twice in a row. 🙂 :

“Did I spend my day producing enough benefit for all the time invested?” (Seth Godin)

This necessitates me asking what the benefit of each task is, which forces me to really be truthful with myself.

Communicating with writers about potential consultations or critiques means a chance to work with wonderful creatives. TOTALLY worthwhile and a benefit, even if in the end it’s not a good match and we don’t end up working together. 

Spending an hour looking up fashion designers who were popular a few years ago for my novel when “designer dress” would do–no benefit and precious creative time wasted. 

Action Plan: Evaluate a task before jumping into to it to determine the benefits.

Imbue Value Where You Don’t See Any

Many tasks must be done regardless. If you don’t see value in a specific task, give it some.

Going through the mail and making choices–keep and put away, recycle, etc–gives me a sense of accomplishment and keeps my desk clear, something that can be a struggle for me. There is value in that for me.

What’s important is making sure it’s valuable to you and trying not to let outside observers, or even your own internal critique, derail you and what you want to accomplish.