I think you can agree that doing meaningless work would be a waste of your time and energy.
That’s because it’s draining your willpower, and it wastes non-renewable time, eating up your most formative years.
- The problem?
It seems impossible to distinguish between important, meaningful work, and projects that should be avoided like the plague.
- Or does it?
In reality, there are 3 BIG Questions that you can ask yourself early in the game so that you can distinguish between meaningless work and a purposeful project that will propel you forward…
…before you waste precious time doing something won’t help you advance.
In this article, you will learn these fundamental questions, when to ask them, and how to avoid falling into the trap of doing meaningless work so that you can make the best of your creativity and be highly effective with your time.
The Art of Meaningless Work
Every day, we face endless distractions that pull us this way and that.
We abandon one project to begin working on the next, then we ask ourselves at the end of the year why we haven’t yet made any significant progress.
In researching a massive project on cognitive bias, I have come to realize that there are a few signifiers that you can look for when you want to distinguish fleeting, superficial work from deep and meaningful projects.
So that you are less likely to fall for the shimmering lures of ephemeral, and, for your overall progress, meaningless work.
Ask yourself the following three questions:
- Must you beat it into submission?
- Does the fight start anew each day you try?
- Will you feel a massive sense of relief once the project is finished?
Beat It Into Submission
One of the most noticeable traits of an important and worthwhile project is the fact that you can, and must, beat it into submission.
That means that you struggle, massage it, and grapple with it, hard, every day trying to make sense of it, and to push it in the right direction.
It’s basically a wrestling match, and you are scared senseless that you won’t come out on top.
If you feel this way about what you are doing, you are probably working on something that will propel you forward.
Does it feel dead to you?
Are you not fending off a beast that is trying to pull you under with every breath that he can muscle, then quickly evaluate what you are doing and make the necessary corrections.
The Fight Starts Anew
Does yesterday’s victory mean nothing today?
Can you have an insanely productive day, only to make no significant progress whatsoever?
Does the battle start anew each day you sit down and try?
Do the fear, the anxiety, and the feeling of falling return to invade your psyche each time you try to beat your work into submission?
Then you are probably doing work that is both meaningful and fulfilling to you, and to those who you are looking to help.
If not, you are just repeating step one over and over again, and the illusion of progress will lead you astray.
You Can’t Wait To Get To The End
Can’t you wait for it to be over for two reasons?
- You want to see it in its final form and be proud of your work.
- You want to get done so that you can get back your sleep, mental health, and social life.
If you are continually balancing these two thoughts when thinking about the final product, you are most likely working on something that has meaning and a purpose.
- It also reveals something else:
If there is an end that can only be envisioned, that means that the project is large enough that you have to think about the end because you can’t see it yet.
Those are all signs that what you are doing is something worth pursuing, and should not be abandoned.
Even if that means making substantial sacrifices to get it done.
Final Words On How To Avoid Meaningless Work
I often think about things that come easy and compare them to things that are hard to do.
Having several business ideas is easy; choosing one of them and mercilessly beating it into submission for the next five years is hard.
If other people are abandoning this project for that, then it’s probably because it’s easy, and there is strength to be found in staying on target.
- Resist your impulses; don’t abandon projects because they scare you.
If you must wrestle with it, if you feel sick, nauseous, and even scared every second you spend working on it, you are heading in the right direction.
Does this fight start each day anew? Then it’s a path you must follow to the end.
Must you envision for yourself the end, and how it will feel to reach completion? Then the project is big enough.
If you fail to identify at least one of these three traits in whatever you are doing, you need to take a walk and think things through.
- Otherwise, you are running the risk of wasting precious years doing meaningless work.
Time is non-renewable.
To end this article, I would like to add a quote from the magnum opus The 48 Laws of Power to summarize the philosophy I have tried to communicate the last couple of minutes:
“Conserve your forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at their strongest point. You gain more by finding a rich mine and mining it deeper, than by flitting from one shallow mine to another—intensity defeats extensity every time. When looking for sources of power to elevate you, find the one key patron, the fat cow who will give you milk for a long time to come.” — Robert Greene.