I drove to my office this morning to read and do some research, but instead I caught up with my colleagues, attended a rather pointless meeting to tell me of a process I was already familiar, was side tracked by emails, and end up only glancing at the materials I had planned to examine in detail. Why did this happen, you ask? I am sure the argument could be made that I lacked focus and I would say you are right, but what caused my lack of focus?
You can’t argue that there are more distractions here than at a coffee shop or at home, both of those locations are rife with distractors. I would say my sense of purpose changes when I get in the office. It naturally becomes more general in nature and “in service of my job” I could do any number of activities that are justifiably meaningful yet still not my intended activity. Work is full of justifiable distractions – there is the difference. We can procrastinate and still rationalize what we are doing because “this is important too” and yet it gets in the way of what we really intended on doing. When I go to a coffee shop to study, my purpose is singular and all the distractions are decidedly irrelevant to my purpose or my job and therefore I have to admit to myself I am overtly procrastinating. In the office, my “busywork” still feels meaningful.
In a ROWE (Results Only Work Environment), why would I feel compelled to come in to the office to do this activity that can be done anywhere? Answer, I wouldn’t. I would go someplace I knew was conducive to getting the task done, instead of going someplace I was “expected“ to be.
I find myself at the end of the day feeling sadly unproductive even though I could point to a multitude of job-related tasks I completed. And while no person particularly bade me to deviate from my purpose, I chose to engage in other tasks that seemed more “dutiful” for the sake of public opinion, instead of achieving real results.
Tomorrow, the coffee shop to actually get my work done.