I remind myself that all work isn't created equally. Just because I'm busy doesn't mean that I'm being productive.
I imagine that every kind of work has its fake-work and make-work. For example, as a writer, I remind myself:
- create, don't fiddle around with italics and formatting
- typing isn't the same as writing
- cruising around the internet isn't the same as "research"
- answering emails, checking Twitter and Facebook, and similar tasks, while important, must not be allowed to get in the way of writing and thinking
- if I'm finding it very hard to write, I should stop trying to write and instead, start thinking harder
- if I'm finding it very easy to write, I'm probably falling into cliché and should start thinking harder
More: 9 Ridiculously Easy Ways To Be More Productive
Of course, one of my Secrets of Adulthood is that the opposite of a great truth is also true, and I have several resolutions aimed at helping me not to worry constantly about being efficient, but instead, to force myself to wander and schedule time for play. Sometimes, I work best by doing things that don't look like "work."
In your job, do you have to fight the urge to do fake-work and make-work? What form does yours take?
Gretchen Rubin is the author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project--accounts of her experiences test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, www.happiness-project.com, she reports on her daily adventures in pursuit of happiness. Gretchen Rubin is one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on happiness to have emerged from the recent explosion of interest in the subject. Though her conclusions are sometimes counter-intuitive—for example, she finds that true simplicity is far from simple to attain—her insights resonate with readers of all backgrounds. Response to Rubin’s practical approach to happiness has been overwhelming. Psychiatrists suggest these books to their patients, professors assign them to their students, book groups read them, families pass them around, and groups have sprung up across the world where people do Happiness Projects together. Exhausted parents and college students, senior citizens and professionals, clergy and social workers, and people facing divorce, illness, and drift have written to tell Gretchen Rubin how she’s influenced them. A graduate of Yale and Yale Law School, Rubin started her career in law, and was clerking for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor when she realized she wanted to be a writer. She has written several books, including three novels safely locked in a desk drawer. But of everything she’s ever written, she says that her one-minute video, The Years Are Short, is the thing that resonates most with people. Rubin is an enthusiastic proponent of using technology to engage with readers about ideas, and she has a wide, active following on social media. “The Happiness Project” was even an answer on the game-show Jeopardy! She loves to connect with readers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube—and on her popular daily blog, of course. Gretchen Rubin has a free monthly newsletter which features highlights from the blog and Facebook Page (sign up here) and the free daily “Moment of Happiness” email with a happiness quote every morning (sign up here). If you’re interested in launching a happiness project group, for people doing happiness projects together, you can get the “starter kit” here.