One hundred and sixty-eight. That’s the number of hours you have in every week. If you really want to scare yourself—keep track of how you spend those hours. And unless you are very, very different from most people I know, the “busy busy” person you think you are is actually doing a whole lot of busy work and, frankly, wasting time.
Not, mind you, that I think that wasting time is necessarily bad. Sometimes it is really important for your peace of mind. Recharging your batteries. Looking at things in a new way.
But sometimes, wasting time is just wasting time. And again, that’s okay, as long as you are not fooling yourself and thinking that you are being constructively busy.
This gets even more scary when you look just at the 40, 50 or 60 hours you are convinced you are working every week. What are you really doing during those hours—and how important are those things anyway?
I’m not just pointing fingers—I’m as guilty as the next person of counting hours spent on email (or any social media) as “work” when maybe only a third of all those messages were more than an electronic version of a coffee break.
Because I work for myself, from my home, I’ve learned that I do have to be more honest with myself about what is work and what isn’t. And I have to be fairly rigorous about doing work. On the other hand, I generally get to waste time in ways I want—rather than wasting it in meetings that seem to have no purpose and certainly have no outcomes.
If I were to have a new year’s resolution, it would not be to waste less time in 2011. It would, instead, be to spend my time more mindfully. Work when I am working, and do other things that I enjoy (for I do enjoy most of my work) in my non-work time. But most of all, my resolution would be not to feel over-worked and overwhelmed because so much of what I am doing feels like work when it really isn’t.
Janet Levine is a consultant who works with nonprofit and educational organizations to increase their fundraising capacity. She is also the co-author of Get Ready, Get Set, Get Grants, a comprehensive guide to writing winning proposals. Learn more about Janet at her website, http://janetlevineconsulting.com. Buy the book at http://tinyurl.com/2996pqg