Do Purposefully

From time to time I encounter people who seem to have the ability to be exceptional in multiple areas of their life at the same time. This hypothetical person may be the creator of a popular open-source software project on GitHub, on top of being an author, a world-traveler, and maybe they also happen to be really good at playing the piano. Perhaps all of this is in addition to being a parent and keeping a regular day job.

While I won’t claim to have discovered the recipe for becoming a multi-faceted, accomplished, and all-around interesting person, I did stumble upon a perspective shift that re-framed the way I view how I spend my time. It is far from profound, but it stuck with me: A day is simply a series of compartments that can be filled with a thing, and every single thing I do occupies one or more of those compartments.

While it is obvious that anything you do will take a non-zero amount of time, when I looked at my day as a physical array of compartments, I found it harder to imagine physically filling any of them with something meaningless. It felt like I was losing something tangible by filling a compartment, and so the thing I put there had better worth it; it is so much easier to be purposeless if I just view time as an endless stream that is trickling by!

So what are your things? What are you regularly filling your day’s time compartments with?

A successful author very likely makes time at consistent intervals to do nothing but write. That is what makes them a successful author. If I finish up dinner, grab a beer, and head to the couch to watch something on Netflix each evening, I am “post-dinner Netflix-watching guy.” If I consistently do that, I’ll get really good at it. But I won’t get good at finishing up my software side project or improving my fitness.

Don’t mistake what I’m saying here: There is nothing wrong with enjoying beer or Netflix, but you are what you regularly do.

Make sure you take time periodically to assess what routines you may have absent-mindedly fallen into. Everything you consistently do gets results; what you really care about is whether or not you are getting the results you want.