If you’ve been following this week’s #SuccessAtWork challenge, hopefully you’ve been making very short to-do lists. And hopefully you’ve been knocking everything off that you put on there.
Some days, you really need short lists. On Monday, I wound up spending two hours at the dentist and 90 minutes fetching my daughter’s new glasses. Neither had been budgeted in to that degree, but they took the time they took. If I’d aimed to do too much that day, I would have had a problem.
Other days, short lists allow space for opportunities. I was able to spend some extra time this week on a few media opportunities because I’d kept open space in my days.
But then sometimes, short to-do lists mean you wind up with open space when you don’t actually need the open space. That could give you an opportunity to dream up new projects, think through your goals and so forth, but if this open space coincides with an energy slump, you can start to feel like you’re really slacking. The internet gets surfed to the point of boring you. What then?
I struggle with this. When you’re paying for childcare, work hours are precious. And, of course, the memory of crazy weeks makes it seem like you should do as much as possible to prepare and perhaps take some potential tasks off future to-do lists. The storm will hit again. Sometimes you can even see it coming! There is always something else you could be doing to build a brand, boost readership, etc.
But I also know there’s no point filling time just to fill it. Sometimes the reason I have open space is that I’ve become more efficient at what I do. I’ve become better at finding sources for stories, so I seldom do interviews that I can’t use — a massive savings of time right there. Blogging has made me faster at cranking out first drafts, and years of editing my own and others’ work has made that process faster too.
So, especially as the weather turns nice, it may be time to enjoy that productivity dividend. Read more, run more, maybe even post more here. That may still be work in a sense, but it doesn’t feel like it!
What tasks have you gotten more efficient at over the years? How do you use that productivity dividend?
In other news: The paperback of All the Money in the World will be released May 28. (That’s the Amazon link). This version has new cover art, a different subtitle (“what the happiest people know about wealth”) and contains the text of my ebook, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, as a bonus section in the back.
Photo courtesy flickr user Tambako the Jaguar. Lionesses enjoy the productivity dividend of catching a gazelle faster than expected.