What Does the Work Need from Me Today?
Updated: Jan 11
Get your work priorities straight by taking a breath and having a think about this question at the start of each business day.
What does the work need from me today?
Asking this frees up the work to speak for itself without interference from you about what you do or don't fancy doing that morning so it intercepts procrastination before it gets going.
It distances intrusive personal worries and anticipations. This is important because these work-irrelevant matters routinely divert us from making objective decisions about what needs to be done in the best interest of the work.
In fact the work knows better than you what it needs to get itself achieved and you and your concerns often get in the way of that happening.
Asking this question allows you to quickly and easily stand aside from the business. Creating this healthy distance helps you to get out from under your workload and look upon it, rather than being constantly embroiled in it.
Taking this stance also enables you to respect the work for its own sake, rather than as something umbilically connected to you, unable to stand on its own feet. Independently, it can identify what it needs to support and progress itself and identify how that should be done. Perhaps that will involve you, perhaps not.
Not everything needs to be done by you, you’ll find. Sometimes capacity - or the lack of it - forces this to be so, but as and when you have the freedom and confidence to delegate and release yourself from the work to focus on other things, why shouldn’t you?
Don’t become the person who, when their work is taken away from them, finds themselves at a very loose end, with nothing to do, no other interests. Of course our work should interest us where possible, but not to exclusion of everything else. Repeatedly defaulting to work to fill a void is a bit sad and can make us stale and boring. Other interests keep us fresh and contribute to our creativity in our chosen field so it makes sense to cultivate oneself beyond immediate work and business.
Habitualize this process of healthy segregation by each morning posing the question ‘What do you (the work) need from me today?’
The answer should arise quickly and naturally once the work is unencumbered of your personal baggage. When you’ve heard the answer, record it and act on it before it gets bogged down in the usual distractions we're all encumbered by.
Your work might be your baby but you both need to grow and develop independently in order to survive and thrive together.
Dr Jane Anderson has worked in personal-professional development and workplace wellbeing for over 30 years. She specialises in Place Affected Organisational Change, a means of developing employee trust and engagement through design participation and environmental literacy. See more at www.jcaconsult.co.uk