When I’m not busy, I get anxious. When I don’t have 50 things on my to-do list for the day, I get a nervous feeling in my gut that tells me I’m doing something wrong. When a week goes by without a big client coming through the door, I get worried.
That’s because we, as humans, are conditioned to forever fill our time with stuff to do. We feel important and valued if we have a lot to do. A great example is bragging about #inboxzero (guilty). Nothing illustrates the “look how much I got done” world we live in more than a hashtag telling people you answered all your emails.
It’s all part of our constant, maddening struggle toward “done”. But nothing is every truly done and there’s always room to keep tweaking and iterating.
Seth Godin calls this the “sea of infinity”:
“…there’s always one more tweet to make, post to write, words with friends move to complete. There’s one more bit of email, one more lens you can construct, one more comment you can respond to. If you want to, you can be never finished…It’s a dance, not an endless grind.”
Whatever it is you do, the challenge is to allow yourself to be comfortable with the undone. This means walking away when something feels right, not waiting until it’s perfect (especially when that moment will likely never come).
We’re busy here at Proof, but last week we shut down all client work to break for Vision Quest – our twice-a-year company adventure/retreat that forces us to pause, breathe, relax, bond, laugh, dream big, set goals, and implement systems that make us – and our work – better.
In the midst of “busy”, pause for purpose.
Leo Babuata of Zen Habits defines busy as:
“…simply noise, action without meaning, lots of little unimportant things rather than a few important ones.”
And that’s much of what we’re working toward here at Proof – as individuals and as a company. We’re working to clear out the little unimportant things/distractions so we can focus our best energy on doing what matters, what excites us, and what we can best contribute to the world.
Because when you’re busy, you don’t have time to build relationships, celebrate successes, and generate new ideas.
In the companies you run, roles you fill, and projects you’re working toward, pause and remember why you do what you do. Then take a look at your to-do list. Is even half of that list in-line with your “why” and your purpose?
Maybe stepping away and taking a few deep breaths is exactly what you need. Maybe the most productive thing you can do is play an epic game of Cards Against Humanity with your colleagues. Maybe leaving your computer in another room and enjoying a beer on the front-porch swing is the perfect way to inspire creativity.
Those moments are just as, if not considerably more, important than when we find ourselves caught up in “busy”. The in-between. The time to relax. The comfort in the undone.
Use those moments to harness the power of your own”why”. That’s the fuel you’ll need to deliver your best “what”.