Date of original publication: July 8, 2010
“Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is NOT laziness. This is hard for most people to accept, because our culture tends to reward personal sacrifice instead of personal productivity.”
– Timothy Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Workweek
I’ll admit it, I’m brainwashed. Even though I’m an entrepreneur, I have this clinging notion that I need to be at a desk for 8 hours a day. My husband (a real estate agent) and I both struggle with creating the discipline to stop working 8 hours a day when we don’t have 8 hours of work – meaningful work – to do.
Recently, The World Cup helped our learning curve.
Adam is a soccer fan. With the games being held in South Africa, the only games he could watch were first thing in the morning and around noon. His routine was to get up, get ready for work, watch a game, and then zip to the office. There, he spent his morning focused and efficient, knowing he needed to have certain things done so he could knock off for a 2-3 hour lunch break. What was left to do after the game was often minimal, and he occasionally came home early.
I thought, “Like Adam, I always get things done in the least amount of time possible when I have something I am REALLY looking forward to.”
The sad state of things is that I haven’t created much in my life that I look forward to enough to motivate me to wrap up my workday.
And to me that IS sad. I’m supposedly creating a life of entrepreneurial freedom, but most days I poke around in front of the computer, dithering away time, often hours beyond my productive work time.
This was a powerful lesson for me, and I made a commitment to make a change. Right away I put yoga, gym time and recreational classes into my calendar.
My commitment was immediately tested. Right on the heels of learning this lesson, a whirlwind of work swept through my office. My days are now packed with 8+ hours per day of productive work. Fitting in the fun stuff feels strangely difficult, but I have to keep in mind that creating new habits – fun or not – is always uncomfortable.
Even as I’m writing this article, my heart is pounding, because in 28 minutes, I have someone coming over to teach me a little about cooking – and it will take all afternoon. The dishes aren’t done. The chicken isn’t defrosted. My desk is a mess.
But I can’t afford NOT to do things differently. I can’t put it off until next year, or even next week. You see, I know several smart, driven business people whose health is suffering in extreme ways, in part because of their constant focus on work. I have to seriously ask myself, “Is that the quality of life I want? I can either have it or avoid it, the choice is mine, but I must choose now.”
So…I’m off to cook.