I can remember weeks when I worked in a cube in an office building on Park Avenue in Manhattan, and I was swamped. So much going on, so busy. And let’s face it, that made me feel like a professional, it made me feel like an adult, and it made me feel proud.
And I can remember getting to a Friday, looking back on the crazy week, and realizing, that, for all intensive purposes, all I did was answer email.
I spent my days REACTING.
The problem is that I didn’t CREATE anything. None of my projects moved forward in any meaningful way. The week was filled with meetings and documents and back & forth emails. All the processes behind creating stuff. But very little stuff was actually created.
Years later, I have no idea what those projects may have been.
I simply kept checking emails, kept reacting, kept up that aura of “OMG, I’m so busy I don’t have time to eat, I MUST be valuable to the company.”
A validation. A validation strengthened by each email reply, by each meeting added to the calendar.
The truth is: FEELING BUSY and actually DELIVERING VALUE are two separate things.
And this is the danger of social media – having tons of interactions, tons of reaction, but at the end of the day/week/month/year, you have built nothing.
Sure, the interactions alone have value on a personal and professional level, but if you are in media, if you are a writer or a creator – you need to be creating a body of work. There has to be a there there.
Something that exists beyond Tweets, beyond one platform, time or place. “The Work” lives on beyond you, it tells people who you are, and it brightens their day. The Work is the embodiment of what you bring to the world.
Seth Godin talks about this when he tells us that we must “ship” – that unless we create something that is shared with the world, that we are just spinning our wheels.
Sonia Simone talks about how she rigorously schedules her day, with periods of work divided into chunks: 50 minutes work, 10 minutes of social media. Of taking two hour blocks of time a day to be without an internet connection.
And this is why I have become such a believer in setting goals for each day, each week, each month, each year.
This is why I set expectations & deadlines with others, so I have to be accountable for delivering value, not just feeling busy.
This is why measurement is so important. How analytics, research and feedback determine whether the work was effective, not just if it was done.
With so many communication streams coming into our lives each day, it’s so easy to say “I replied to 40 customer queries.” But the harder question to answer is: what was the affect? What did you build?
Be sure that you don’t get caught up in the echo chamber of the web – that you build something unique and original – a body of work, not just a reaction.