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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 December 2, 2019

      10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

      10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

      Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

      In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

      These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

      1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

      Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

      But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

      Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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      2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

      You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

      The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

      3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

      If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

      Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

      If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

      4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

      Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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      To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

      In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

      5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

      We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

      If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

      Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

      “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

      6. Give for the Joy of Giving

      When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

      One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

      So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

      7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

      Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

      Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

      8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

      When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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      So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

      9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

      Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

      It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

      It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

      10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

      There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

      But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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      Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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      Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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