Jedi Productivity 10 of 11: ”Luke! you switched off your targeting computer!” making time for yourself

This post is part of the Star Wars Jedi Productivity blog post series.  There will be 11 posts coming weekly every Tuesday for… yes… just counted it… the next 11 weeks.  These posts will guide your journey from a wilful, novice young pretender who is controlled by time…  into a magnificent Jedi who uses time as her own power.  The full set of posts are available from here.

”Luke! you switched off your targeting computer!” making time for yourself

“I am so busy” everybody’s excuse

This week I am going to take a step back from Jedi Productivity disciplines and look at our lives from a higher viewpoint than hour-by-hour.  Today we’ll take a week or year-long perspective.

Many people who struggle with procrastination find that the source of their procrastination is not a lack of Jedi Productivity discipline.  It is not from a lack of willpower.  It is not from a lack of clear work goals.  It comes from a different source.

It comes from something important missing in your life.

Can you Play like a Child?

It comes from not loving your free time.  It comes from having forgotten how to play.

Kids are great at play.  Some adults are great at play.  Many adults are not.  They lost it somewhere along the way.

The source of the loss is largely due to the way that older people ask us questions: “why are you doing this?  why are you studying that?”  We are asked to justify ourselves.  We begin to feel the need to justify all activity in terms of some wider goal.

The danger?  The danger comes when I start to use this question on all aspects of life.

My daughter, now age 7, often responds to the question “why are you doing that?” with the wonderfully profound answer “because I want to.”  She hasn’t lost the ability to play.  She has a full, wonderful capacity to play.  (sometimes so wonderful that it causes me, her father, to make her sit down and eat, tidy her toys, do her homework, read a few lines of a book…)

My most common justification is “I am doing it to earn money.”  (A more pervasively dangerous answer is “because I have to”)

I recently asked myself how well I use my free or “spare” time.  I didn’t like the answer.  I tend to be planned and intentional about how I use “work” hours, and unintentional and unprepared around “free” hours.  I think the quality of my “free” hours (do I use them to take a real break, do I get recharged with energy, do I enjoy life?) has a direct impact on the productivity of my “work” hours.

What do you love to do in your free time? What do you do on the weekends where you have no commitments?

How well do you use your “free” hours?

There are two types of activity: “do-to-get” activity and “do-to-do” activity.  Let me share a little bit about what I mean by these two types of activity.

  • do-to-get“: I spend 15 minutes this morning creating client invoices and emailing them as pdf files.  If you ask me what I am doing, I say I am doing my accounting.  If you ask me why, I will say “I am doing this in order to get money.”
  • do-to-do“: I spend 1 hour yesterday reading a book called The Master and The Emissary.  If you ask me what I am doing, I say I am reading.  If you ask me why, I will say that I am doing this because I am interested in the ideas in the book.  In reality I enjoy reading.  I am not doing it to get anything.

All “do-to-get” activities are not purposeful (to me) in themselves – they are so that I have more time, resources, capabilities for my “do-to-do” activities.  Jedi Productivity is very important in “do-to-get” activities, because the aim is to have the biggest impact for the least use of resources (time, money, network).

Work is a “do-to-get” activity for most people.  They don’t love the activity of their job.  They do their job so that they have resources for something else.  It might be to save money to buy a kitesurf holiday.  It might be to pay for the roof over their heads and the food on the table.  The meaning (to me) of this “do-to-get” activity is not sourced intrinsically from the actual activity itself; it is derived from the future application of the resources that the activity will deliver to you.

100% Busy and Entirely Meaningless

Many lives are so entirely filled up with “do-to-get” activity and a “do-to-get” mindset that there is no “do-to-do” activity at all in the life.  This is a life gathering resources without purpose.  This is a life of busy-ness.

We live one glorious opportunity of life and will pass away.  The playful exploration of life of “do-to-do” activity is what makes a life feel meaningful.  If you have no playful exploration in your life, there is little point in being Jedi Productive.  Your mind will ask you “what is the point?”  If I have zero wonderful “do-to-do” activities for my free time, there is no value in being Jedi Productive in my “work” time.

If you find that you procrastinate often it might not have anything to do with your Jedi Productivity disciplines, it might have everything to do with your life having a sense of meaninglessness – in particular in your “free” time.

What are your “do-to-do” activities?  What are the activities that you do and have a guilty feeling of not being able to explain to someone why it is important to you?

Finding your “do-to-do” activities

Carl Jung had an intense fascination with his own first memory.  It was building a house out of wooden blocks.  He made sure that he was always involved in a hands-on building project throughout his life.  He pushed all those around him to explore their own first memories of play. He believed there is something important for us in the activity that makes up our earliest childhood memory.  What is yours?  What is your earliest memory of playing?  What were you doing? 

My first memory of play is of sitting on a red toy tractor.  I remember being pushed off the tractor by my friend who lived next door.  I remember lying on the floor feeling confused…  “why did he do that?”  I have always been interested in psychology, in stories about people, in finding ways to understand what drives people to do the things that they do.

What are your “do-to-do” activities?

I love running.  I know it is good for my health, I know it gets me out into nature, I know I feel better afterwards… but none of those are the real reasons why I run.  I run because I enjoy running.  It is a “do-to-do” activity for me.  Running becomes meaningful to me because I seek no justification for doing it.

I love public speaking.  I get paid for it.  I know I can explain it as good business marketing…  but none of those are the real reasons why I take opportunities to speak to large groups of people.  It is a “do-to-do” activity for me.  Its meaning to my life comes from it being an endpoint of sorts – it is not the means to any other end, it is an end in and of itself.  It is a form of play.

What about you?

What are your “do-to-do” activities?  What are the activities that you feel the need to justify, but at core you do because you get something meaningful from the activity in and of itself.  In simple terms: What is your play?

Goodbye Ad-Hoc, Hello Systematic

In order to be a full Jedi time manager, the novice must learn to use proven tools such as:

  • Prioritising
  • Goal Setting
  • Deadlines
  • Delegation
  • Planning

That’s what this post series is all about.  You will become a master of the force and a power user of the tools of systematic, habitual action. Are you a Jedi guided missile?  Are you systematic in how you set goals and make daily progress on what is important?  Or, are you more of an ad-hoc novice?

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