You work hard. You’re always busy. That long to-do of yours keeps growing every day. The projects you think are finished always come back for more. You never seem to be done with anything. Me neither. It doesn’t bother me, though, and it doesn’t have to bother you. In fact, I’d like to show you how you can be successful beyond imagination when you stop trying to get things done.
I’ve got lists of things I need complete at work, home, church, etc. It used to bother me when, no matter how much I got done, more work kept piling up. I felt like productivity was never leading to accomplishment. I tried prioritization, delegation, and disconnecting. Each of these are valid approaches to productivity, and I employ all three on a daily basis. None of them, though, provide me with an empty to-do-list.
After struggling for years, I came to the realization that I was focused on the wrong goal. An empty to-do list is no holy grail. There is no prize to be won for having an empty plate. Getting things done, I learned, is not as important as we make it out to be. Here’s how I learned to be comfortable with unfinished business:
- Do work that matters to people. This shifts the focus from the tasks to the relationships. When you make this change, you start working with purpose. Purposeful work should never be complete. Connecting to people, serving others and deepening relationships are all real accomplishments that never get crossed off the list. The to-do list is a selfish endeavor. Focus on others instead. You’ll never be done. There’s always more work to do. Find satisfaction in working with purpose every day.
- Focus on being ready, instead of done. A successful project is one that has longevity and satisfied users. By definition, then, success makes more work. Delivering a product is just the beginning of a cycle of constant improvement. Customer feedback, market shifts, and technology changes combine to make the notion of “being done” ludicrous. The work you are doing today is preparing you for the work you’ll do tomorrow. Focus on being ready to capitalize on the next opportunity to delight customers. Be thankful that success comes from preparation, not completion.
- Keep score along the way. When you’re secure in the fact that the best work never really gets done, that doesn’t always mean others will agree. We all have people in our lives who will hold us accountable to get things done. Keeping a journal of your accomplishments will help you communicate with others when you’re asked what you’ve worked on. It also works for me to look back from time-to-time. Reviewing my journal sheds light on the fact that, while building relationships and preparing for future successes, I actually got a lot done. See what I did there?
That’s how I changed my perspective on productivity. It’s made every day a little bit better, and life a lot more fulfilling. Are you ready to do the same?