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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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      Last Updated on December 2, 2018

      How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

      How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

      Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

      The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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      The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

      Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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      Review Your Past Flow

      Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

      Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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      Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

      Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

      Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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      Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

      Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

      We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

      Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

        Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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