Using Busyness to Procrastinate: How We Hide True Productivity in "Productivity"
I caught myself doing it yesterday: resisting efficiency.
While listening to Getting Things Done for the first time since starting my business (I listened and read it often when I had a desk job), I found myself resisting implementing the clearly beneficial time and project management tools.
Why? It was a good question... why wouldn't I want more time?
And then it hit me: if I had more time, I would have time to do the projects I didn't want to do -- Projects like accounting, wholesale sales, and PR.
I was using lack of efficiency to procrastinate projects I didn't like so that I could chase around projects that were more fun.
This is not a new problem. In my desk jobs, one thing that came back frequently in reviews (every review, really) was that even though I am very productive and effective, if I don't like a project, I will find a way not to do it. I could avoid it because I don't believe it adds value (but someone else does, therefore it had to be added to the project queue) or because it's unpleasant (budget reports).
There were always completely legitimate reasons I dragged my feet, but I knew in my heart that I could just get those projects done if I wanted to.
Now that I'm my own boss, though, I don't have anyone saying "We need you to file this government compliance paperwork by x date." So I fill my days with totally legitimate projects and kind of never get around to the shitty government compliance paperwork. But it still has to be done.
I can't be the only person with this problem.
Now that I'm aware of the problem, though, I have to apply the same tools that I learned in my desk job:
Never put off for two months something that will take two minutes.
In Getting Things Done, David Allen has a whole comprehensive project tracking method, but also says if something is going to take only two minutes, DO THE THING NOW. Don't file it. Don't add it to a to-do list. Don't spend any time processing it, just get it done.
He also says that if something is in your inbox, process it in order and determine a next step right away, instead of shuffling it to the side to be dealt with later.
I'm so inspired that I've decided to implement these methods on my phone on the way down to LA (today!) and will implement the project organization system next week between shows.
Do you use busyness to put off projects you don't want to do? Have you found a way to get them done even if you hate them?
What productivity tools do you use? Have you read any particularly insightful books?
Tell me in the comments!
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