I worked with Sarah Wilson a few years back on Australian Cosmopolitan magazine (she was Editor, I was Creative Director) - she has a very impressive brain indeed and a thirst for knowledge like I've never known (oh, and the kind of legs that go for miles...). I have to thank her for a recent column she wrote for (the February 13th issue of) Sunday Life mag. It was nothing short of a monumental eye opener for me, plus incredibly timely. Below is an excerpt I wanted to share:
Henry David Thoreau once said (about life in general), "frittered away by detail." That is, getting back to people, paying parking tickets and working through bottomless to-do lists. And that magical day when I “finally get on top of things” and can focus on creative outpouring keeps getting pushed back and back. I think it’s a fact of modern life that no one gets anything done anymore. Anything of worthwhile, creative value. Productivity expert Jason Fried spoke at TED.com recently about how work doesn’t happen at work now; it gets done on the train, on weekends and when we come in two hours early before the email avalanche descends. I was talking to my friend Kerry, a CEO of a charity organisation. “I need a long plane trip to come up soon,” she said. “So I can get my mid-term report finished.” This is how we get our meaningful work done, because our “working days” are completely shredded up by interruptions and meetings and we never get the momentum and locked-out languid space required for creative stuff. But it’s the creative stuff we’re all crying out for, isn’t’ it! It’s the reflective report, the well thought-out blog post, the inspired company mission statement we all want to be measured by. It’s what makes work worthwhile and our lives meaningful. We. Just. Need. To. Learn. How. To. Get. To. It. And in my case, quicksticks.
So. What. To. Do.
A big part of the problem is that most of our day is spent doing what Scott Belsky, author of Making Ideas Happen, calls “insecurity work” – keeping our inbox clear, checking Twitter, rewriting to-do lists. We succumb to insecurity work because it’s instantly gratifying, and it quashes the general nervousness I think we all feel at our core much of the time. And so we fail to “sharpen the saw”, as Stephen Covey put it in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey described the woodcutter frantically and ineffectively working with a blunt saw and getting very little done. He’s too busy to stand back and take the time to sharpen it."
Food for thought, right? But it doesn't end there, so head over to Sarah's incredible website (be warned, it will change your life), and read the full article.