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Stop Doing Meaningless Work…Today!

Stop Doing Meaningless Work…Today!


    Much of the work we do is absolutely meaningless, a wasteful use of our time that really doesn’t accomplish anything of value. Do you find yourself asking, “Why am I doing this?”, “Does this really even need to be done?”, or “Am I creating anything of value?” If the answer is yes, then in all likelihood you’re stuck in the cycle of being engaged in meaningless work that has little or no value to the world, your field, or even your company.

    Meaningless Work…Explained

    Meaningless work is work which contributes nothing, and accomplishes nothing. It’s often busy work, “should work,” dissatisfying work, or work that doesn’t really matter to you or the world. Often our propensity to engage in meaningless work is born of a fear of not appearing to be busy. We don’t want others to think that we’re lazy. It has become a matter of social acceptance and professional respect to be constantly busy, buried under the pile of “too much work.”

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    Do Meaningful Work

    Often we’re afraid to speak up, to question why we’re doing something. We need to ask that question of others and of ourselves. Do we have a sense that our work is contributing to the health or profitability of our company? Is our work contributing something of value to the world at large? Do we have a sense of personal accomplishment?

    Do Work That Contributes Something of Value to the World

    Most of us want to do work that matters, work that creates a better world, work that has value beyond us. Question the value of your work to the world.

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    Ask yourself:

    • Does my work improve the quality of others’ lives?
    • Does my work improve the condition of the world in general?
    • Does my work make living or working better, easier, faster, or less stressful?
    • Do I feel like I’m wasting my time?
    • Is my work in line with my values?

    Do Work That Produces Something

    Work that produces something tangible is usually meaningful in some way. However, work that produces something intangible can also be meaningful. Think about whether or not your work is actually creating anything. Make sure that what you’re producing is helpful, not harmful.

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    Ask yourself:

    • Are you producing something helpful?
    • Are you producing quality work, quality products, or quality services?
    • Are you producing something useful, or is it wasteful?
    • Do you care about what you’re producing?

    Do Work That Allows You to Grow

    Work that allows us to learn and to grow as a person is inherently meaningful. Work that allows us to express our creativity and use our talents is meaningful. Work that allows us to expand our skills and connect to the outside world is meaningful.

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    Ask yourself:

    • Are you learning anything from your work?
    • Are you doing work that seeks new solutions or attempts to look at things in a different way?
    • Are you doing work with integrity?
    • Are you doing work that is creative, innovative, or inventive?
    • Does your work allow you to express your passion?
    • Do you feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day?

    No Busywork

    If the reason you’re doing what you’re doing is to appear busy or to fill your time, then it’s meaningless. If the reason you’re doing work is because it’s always been done that way, question if there’s a different way to do it or whether it really needs to be done at all. If you’re doing work that has been assigned to you, don’t be afraid to question if it’s the best use of your time and the best way to contribute to your company. Don’t buy into the culture of busyness.

    Stop worrying about what other people think of what you’re doing. Worry about what you think of what you’re doing. Keep asking the tough questions about the nature of your work. Do work that’s in line with your integrity. Do work that feels worthwhile. Do work that feels like you are contributing something meaningful to yourself, your employer, or the larger world.

    And start doing it today.

    (Photo credit: Nowhere Road Sign via Shutterstock)

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      Royale Scuderi

      A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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      Last Updated on March 13, 2019

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

      You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

      Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

      1. Work on the small tasks.

      When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

      Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

      2. Take a break from your work desk.

      Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

      Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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      3. Upgrade yourself

      Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

      The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

      4. Talk to a friend.

      Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

      Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

      5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

      If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

      Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

      Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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      6. Paint a vision to work towards.

      If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

      Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

      Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

      7. Read a book (or blog).

      The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

      Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

      Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

      8. Have a quick nap.

      If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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      9. Remember why you are doing this.

      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

      10. Find some competition.

      Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

      11. Go exercise.

      Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

      Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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      Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

      12. Take a good break.

      Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

      Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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