There’s a lot of literature in the professional realm about personal productivity. From Covey’s classic The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People to more recent additions such as Hallowell’s Distraction at Work: How to Focus and Be More Productive, there are more suggestions for how we can make the best of our time than we could ever hope to absorb.
During a recent conversation with a group of fellow consultants, the concept of always trying to achieve the “best and highest purpose” of our time and effort came up. One idea was to rate every task against a dual framework of important and urgent. Another was to focus on being in a state of flow as much as possible.
The main thrust of the literature and this conversation was to be focused and productive ALL THE TIME.
Well, guess what. That’s just not possible. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it.
Give yourself a break and just accept the fact that sometimes you’re going to be distracted. What’s more, it’s probably a good thing to let your mind wander now and then.
The brain needs some down time to process things. And, we can often find inspiration in unexpected places. By relaxing our focus, we open ourselves to new information and new ideas.
This wonderful piece by Will Willimon, given as a commencement address, celebrates the value of daydreaming to the creative process.
Alas, sometimes it’s not daydreaming, but pressing personal issues that distract us. In that case, it may be the “best and highest purpose” of our time to attend to our families or health or other priorities. Work isn’t everything.
So, as you enjoy the balmy days of summer, go easy on yourself (and, if you’re a supervisor – on your staff) and recognize that you are not an automaton.
Fundraising is an essentially human enterprise and the best fundraisers are empathetic, creative, and productive.