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You are what you go after



In the last one month, I have barely read half a book, barely written five thousand words, barely written ten blog posts, have skipped the gym on nearly half the days. In short, I have been slacking away. Yet, it feels like I've been as busy as I've always been. It feels like I haven't really been wasting any time at all. And yet, that's not what's been reflecting in the reality.

Looks like I've been consumed by the busywork syndrome. It is when one spends all their time doing seemingly productive things, but barely get anything done at all that matters. You can answer email for three hours a day and hop onto Facebook or Snapchat or Instagram every half an hour to see what else is new, trying to get some work done or reading done or writing done in those half hours punctuated by peeks into social media (or email). Days spent this way might seem to be keeping you busy, might make you think you are getting things done, but nothing significant moves.

All the tasks I listed above takes solid chunks of uninterrupted time. I need to sit with a book for at least an hour if I have to immerse myself in the story that I'm reading and enjoy it and retain it. I have to spend five to ten times the amount of time it takes to put down a thousand words, thinking. Figuring out what those thousand words ought to convey. And that requires a chunk of uninterrupted time dedicated to it. So does gymming. So does real work at work (email is not real work).

And admittedly, I've not been carving out enough such bigger chunks of time away from interruptions in the past one month, which has resulted in hitting an all time low on output. But I've been busy nonetheless.

Have you found yourself in such a situation? It's not easy to come out of.

But there is still hope. I was telling a friend that I need to keep up a certain way of doing things and I was asked in return, "Keep up? Shouldn't it just be natural?" and this simple response struck a nerve. Things ought to be natural. Indeed! And I realised that's what I had been missing this last one month. Things hadn't been natural.

I always keep myself occupied on three to five different projects (for the lack of a better word), so that even if the going gets tough in one or two of these, it remains exciting and natural in the other three, which means I can switch tasks to rejuvenate and then get back to harping away at the thing that has gotten tough to move ahead on. But this has been an interesting one month as multiple areas all hit tough spots simultaneously. And there was nowhere to rejuvenate. Everywhere I looked, I saw a hard task staring back at me. And inadvertently, I started spending lesser time on these and busied myself with busywork.

But no more. A little reshuffle of the current states of the projects along with shelving a couple for a while and taking on something new looks like it can lift me out of this rut.

I remember once reading that 'You are what you go after'. The things that you go after invariably defines your habits. Whether you achieve it or not is a different thing, but it will still shape you because most waking hours are spent going after it.

If you don't like what you're doing day after day after day, change what it is that you're going after. 'Keep going at it till you nail it' is popular advice, but at the same time foolish. Sometimes, you need to take a detour and get back to it later. 

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