Just Stop Playing

When we think of “playing” during work, most of us might think of games. Maybe you have a thing for World of Warcraft and you let your game time bleed into your work time. That’s the obvious thing we think of when I mention “playing”.

But most of us play in other ways that interfere with our work time and focus. Some people spend way too much time exploring todo list apps, trying to find the perfect one (hint: there isn’t one, so stop looking). Others can’t seem to stop making spreadsheets that analyze the health of their business. People can “play” with things that they feel are justified as essential parts of their job.

They aren’t essential, though. We just like to think they are. Finding the perfect productivity system isn’t essential. Really, it’s not. Do you know what is? Capturing every important task and note that comes your way, keeping them organized in a master list, and then working off of that list using common sense and your priorities as a guide. Everything else is fluff. Everything else is “playing”.

Stop playing. Stop fussing over the tools and just do the work.

Look, If I billed you for every hour you spend futzing around with a productivity app or a new notebook—meaning I literally forced you to pay me an hourly rate for that time—I am fairly confident that you would stop doing it. But here’s the deal: it already costs you money, you just don’t see the deductions from your bank account in the same way.

When we waste time on our tools, that’s time we could have used to do billable client work. Work that you can invoice. Work that contributes to your paycheck and your bottom line. Work less, earn less. Work more, earn more. It’s simple math. When you are exporting all of your tasks from your todo app and importing them into this week’s hot new thing, you are wasting time that could be spent elsewhere.

Do you want a raise in your freelancer salary? Do you want to accomplish more meaningful work? Do you want to get better at what you do? Stop playing with your tools and start working. It’s that simple.