In my last ten years of work, I’ve always been trying to improve how I work.
Overall, this has worked. My 30-something-year-old self is significantly more productive and has better working habits than the version in who was in his early twenties.
That said, there are still some common problem areas to which I believe there might not be any solution.
The key thing I want to discuss is the amount of work. I have found that there is always far too much to get done, and working more time simply does not work.
I have tried working lots of ten and twelve-hour days in a row, and while, of course, more things to get done you also create more work.
The faster you reply to emails, the more emails you receive. The faster you can complete projects, the more projects will be assigned to you. Your bosses or clients are not stupid, they will always give more work to those who are more productive.
So, working harder just produces more work, which means that working harder will not give you a feeling of calm. Until recently, I’ve always thought that if I can get on top of all my outstanding work. I can then finally relax and enjoy my life, but that is not the correct strategy.
The strategy is to be able to relax despite the fact that there is a lot to do, and a lot that will be left undone. Being comfortable knowing that you won’t be able to achieve everything you have t do is great — it forces prioritization and a deeper understanding of what work is worth doing and what is worth leaving.
So instead of focussing on what can be done, perhaps we should be getting obsessed about what can be left undone?