How to Stop Wasting Time and Get to Work

Itxy Lopez by ConvertKit on Unsplash

Monday through Sunday, before nine a.m., the first thing I do is write a one-thousand-word article.

Since I chose writing as my career, writing is my top priority. It's my toughest job, which means I need to tackle it first.

Most people don't work on their challenging (and most significant) tasks until they've completed their busywork.

It's tempting to start your day with quick and easy work. Checking your email. Drafting the newsletter you need to send tomorrow. Reading.

There are three reasons you want to avoid commencing your day with busywork.

1. You won't feel fulfilled by your work

Completing numerous trivial tasks throughout the day doesn't make you productive. When night comes, you'll be dissatisfied.

You'll feel this way because you didn't do fulfilling work. Those minor tasks are simple to get through, but they don't hold value.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a busy day. I edited submissions to my publication, read a book about writing, and more. However, by eight, when I "punched out" of work, I felt as if my entire day had gone to waste.

I hadn't written a word all day. I didn't do the one thing that matters the most to me. I paid the price of regret for that at night.

To change your life, you need to change your priorities. - Unknown

Being productive doesn't mean completing a lot of work. That leads to unfulfillment. Being productive means striving to complete the work that matters to you - even if it's complicated and long.

2. You'll wonder where the time went (and not in a good way)

Sometimes, I'll look up from my screen after writing for a while, and I'm shocked by how much time passed. That's the only form of "Where did the time go?" you want to experience.

When you do the little tasks that don't take much effort, time flies - but not in a good way.

Have you ever been so unproductive that you wondered, "What the hell did I do all day?" That's what happens here.

The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule but to schedule your priorities. - Stephen R. Covey

Doing work that doesn't matter produces the same feeling as not having done any work at all. You can try to fool yourself, but it won't work.

3. You'll cause yourself unnecessary stress

When you procrastinate meaningful work, you end up scrambling to finish it by the end of the day. You cause yourself stress that could've been avoided if you'd worked on the more challenging jobs first.

If you're always stressed, you're going to suck the fun out of your passion. You'll unconsciously train yourself to dread the work.

I give myself two hours to write every morning even though I usually take one hour. I don't need to rush through my work. I can take my time and enjoy what I do without overwhelm.

You can enjoy your work when you give yourself plenty of time in the beginning. If you can avoid the stress, do it.

What are your priorities?

You might not be doing the busywork on purpose. Perhaps you genuinely don't know what your priorities are.

Free-time after graduating will force you to figure out what matters and what doesn't. School is no longer your top priority.

If that's the case, what are your priorities? Your priorities consist of the essential steps you need to take to grow your career.

I want to make a full-time living as a writer. My priorities are:

  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Publishing

Learning about writing and reading is necessary, but no task is as important as actually writing.

If you want to build a successful YouTube channel, your top priorities would be recording videos, editing, and uploading. Marketing your work is unavoidable, but you can't market a channel that doesn't have content.

Write Nicolas Cole talked about how work, such as creating, is called "output." Other responsibilities like studying your craft and successful people you admire would be in the "input" category.

"The moment your input becomes disproportionate to your output, you are no longer being productive."

The output is your priority.

Don't think, start moving

When you have numerous tiny tasks to work on, it's easy to feel overwhelmed because you don't want to forget anything. I suggest you write down those tasks in your notes or on a piece of paper.

Once it's out of your head, you don't need to worry. You can focus on the vital work.

Don't think twice about getting to work. If you overthink, you won't take action. Don't let your feelings dictate what step you take next.

Grab your laptop, get your camera, set up your workstation, and start.

Don't give in to the relief of work that requires little effort. Choose to work on what matters. Once you start, it gets easier. You get into your zone, and before you know it, you're finished.

Once you've completed those priorities, then you can start tackling your other responsibilities.

You will feel fantastic by the end of the night

My self-imposed working hours end at eight. When all I manage to complete is busywork, I don't enjoy my night off. I don't feel like I deserve my break.

You don't enjoy time off or rewards you didn't earn. You feel guilty because you know you don't deserve it. Remember, busywork won't make you feel good. Rewarding yourself for it will only make you feel worse.

When you know you completed fulfilling work, breaks feel well-deserved. You genuinely relax.

"'Treat yourself,' 'take a break, 'enjoy the moment,' 'avoid burnout.' All of these statements would be beneficial if you've been giving it your all toward something worthwhile." - Ayodeji Awosika

What sounds better? Relaxing nights off or feeling regret for doing passive work?

Don't be tempted to do work that doesn't add value to your life or your goals. It won't help you reach your dreams, and you won't feel content. Challenge and doing work you enjoy will satisfy you.

Don’t choose the path of least resistance. It pays off.

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