Build, Maintain, Rest

If you ever were to take a week or a month and keep track of how you truly spend your time every day, you might cry a little bit on the inside.

Many times the most important things we should be doing are ones which also feel mundane and tedious in the moment. And so we often distract ourselves from important work to do instead whatever seems more interesting or urgent in the moment.

There is more than one way to help us keep on track with doing our most important work day in and day out. And it goes beyond just white-knuckle focus and ripping our internet cable out of the wall.

It can be helpful to know what our high-level goals/values are for each day. And then we have a plumb line to see if the tasks we are doing fit into the big picture.

For example: many people have a goal of writing every day. Which is great. But what’s the high-level value that writing every day fits into? Is it the value of making progress on their book? Is it the value of improving their writing skills? Is it the value of getting better as a communicator?

For me, I have three work values for how I spend my time. When I am “at work” I want to either be building, maintaining, or resting.

  • Building is doing work with the future in mind. This includes coming up with new ideas (many of which we’ll never even act on, but that’s okay), clarifying plans for a current project, making tangible progress on projects that haven’t yet shipped, learning something new, etc.

  • Maintaining is doing the work with today in mind. Such as checking my email, updating WordPress, writing show notes, etc. This is the day-to-day work that is vital to be done, but in and of itself usually isn’t a significant contributor to the growth of my business and my creativity.

  • Resting is simply taking a break from the work. Albert Einstein said: “Although I have a regular work schedule, I take time to go for long walks on the beach so that I can listen to what is going on inside my head. If my work isn’t going well, I lie down in the middle of a workday and gaze at the ceiling while I listen and visualize what goes on in my imagination.”

All three of these are important, and each one goes in and out of its season of being the most important. For example, in the fall of 2014 I spent a lot of my time focusing on the building of the new Tools & Toys. Then, once the new website launched, all my time went to maintaining the site. Now that it has settled in, I’m once again back to focusing mostly on building our next project.

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