In honor of Labor Day, I am not working. You probably aren’t either. First celebrated in 1882, Labor Day honors the achievements of American workers by giving them (or at least some of them) the day off.
Many of us though, will make a to-do list and figure out ways we can be more productive once we do get back in the office. Right? While we celebrate how the American workforce has contributed to the strength of our Nation, we will be figuring out how we can get more done.
Productivity is revered in this country. Some of our Puritan and Calvinist ancestors even used to believe the harder we worked the better chance we had of squeaking through the Pearly Gates of Heaven. Historically, then, those who worked hard were thought better than those who didn’t. And so formed this drive to stay busy.
Even today, we like people who are productive. We rarely notice what they are busy doing, but if they seem frenzied and hectic and then we too-often assume they are doing something that matters. We give’em the old Atta Boy.
I used to be this way too. I used to take pride in telling others how much work I had. How busy I was. Never took a day off. Then I realized, it didn’t matter one bit if I was busy all the time. What mattered most was how I was spending my time.
What are You Busy Doing?
These days, I’m still busy. But sometimes I’m busy at physical therapy healing my body, other days I’m out with my daughter watching her slip in slide, and long days are spent at my desk writing articles and books and blog posts. I’m busy doing the things that matter to me. I busy creating meaning in my life. Sometimes that takes me out of the office, sure, but after, when I’m back at the desk, I almost always get more done.
Yep, all that time out of the office, actually infuses me with creativity. It eases my stress, promotes awareness and focus. Because I’m doing the things that provide meaning in my life, I feel revitalized and fired up when I do sit down to do the so-called work that pays my bills. Time off then, doesn’t necessarily mean time wasted. It isn’t time spent laying on the couch. It’s time spent learning and growing and connecting and loving.
Of course there are still deadlines to meet, work to be done, and plenty of days when I need to get to it. My work is meaningful, but there are aspects of it that aren’t; jobs that I don’t love to do. But, even the drudgery is easier to face when you spend some of your time doing what matters.
In my experience, this is the crux of working smarter. Life is about more than making a deadline and earning the money and getting a lot done. It is about experiencing the world. Savoring the goodness. Learning from adversity. It is about doing the things that fuel you even while contributing to others. When you add at least some of these meaning-makers to your to-do list, you’ll be less likely to burnout and more likely to feel inspired and productive.
So, what are you producing? What are you busy doing? How are you contributing? Make sure you’re spending at least some of those hours creating more meaning in your life. In, Wednesday’s post, I’ll offer some tips that can help you take care of the essentials and still have time left over for more meaningful endeavors.