Twenty Something Advice: Get Things Done for the Right Reasons

As I sit here on a Thursday afternoon, using my break time from working to “work” on my blog I find the subject of this guest post ironically laughable. This guest post was written by David Giesberg, a fellow Brazen Careerist, who is currently an engineering student. David blogs about technology, productivity, and personal finance.

* * * *

People spend a lot of time worrying about getting things done and maximizing productivity, but more important than just maximizing productivity is what your goals are when you start off on down that road. Don’t use all of the time that you free up to load yourself down with more things to do, that’s a recipe for burnout. I’m not sure if it is an engineering student thing to do, or what, but I have a tendency to let homework (and a lot of other work) expand into whatever space and time I have. Make sure to factor in free time into your schedule (whether that schedule is written down or just your game plan for the day), you need to use that time to eat, sleep, watch TV, spend time with loved ones, whatever it is that you need to make time for, the stuff that really matters. I am not quite there yet, but I am trying to retrain myself to not let schoolwork take over my life and time, too much other stuff in my life suffers when I do that – my health and my relationships, for example, not to mention that the quality of your work suffers if you are tired, overloaded, and not focused. Getting things done should not be about optimizing your existing workload so you can add more stuff; GTD should be about freeing yourself up to pursue the things that you need to do and to improve the things that you already do. Doing less stuff better has got to be a more valuable pursuit than trying to do a million things poorly. Let’s explore this, using students as an example: A lot of people will say that your GPA doesn’t really matter that much in the grand scheme of things. All a 4.0 says is that you do schoolwork very well, it doesn’t say much else about you. Alternatively, if you can show off a collection of valuable experience, like internships, or a great blog or involvement in a community project or build deeper, more valuable relationships with those around you, that will matter a lot more in the long run. Use the progress you make in maximizing productivity to do something meaningful, concentrate your energy on the stuff and people that matter.

* * * *

{editors note: I will tell you a little secret David, this idea of filling up whatever space you have with “stuff” is not mutually exclusive with engineering students. In fact, it’s a pretty common issue with I will take a stretch here and say everyone. I am not really a schedule based person but I do make time for non-work things by scheduling dinners with my friends, reading, and creating self imposed no computer times. It’s amazing how much you can get done, or not, by giving yourself even 30 minutes of freedom. It’s important to know what motivates you to get things done. My “get things done for the right reason” is so that I can have fun and spend time with all the wonderful people in my life. I like to say that I work hard so that I can play hard, even though my “play” lately tends to be being lazy by the pool. So, my question for you dear freeders, what’s your reason for getting things done?}

6 thoughts on “Twenty Something Advice: Get Things Done for the Right Reasons

  1. Obligation mainly. I really don’t like to let people down. I don’t want people to say that I waste time or that I’m lazy.

    But I think I work hard now because I want to play hard later. I want to finish law school. I want to be successful. So, that later on I can travel and live the lifestyle I want.

  2. You say you want to live the lifestyle you want, why not do it now? Check out Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Workweek – he is a big advocate of the concept of mini-retirements (similar to sabbaticals), rather than wasting the best years of your life slogging through work you don’t want to do.

  3. Great post David.

    I have to think long and hard on some key points that I’m wanting to make in my life.

    I love the concept of mini-retirement.

  4. If you’re spending the best years of your life slogging through work you don’t want to do, perhaps those mini-retirements would be better spent putting together a strategy to put yourself into a position where you’re accomplishing work you enjoy.

    A bit ideal? Perhaps. Possible? Absolutely. It also helps that perception does wonders (Starbucks, Apple, etc).

    I’d also say a mini-sabbatical is only as enjoyable as the context surrounding it.

    Just thought I’d throw some twists in :) I agree about planning free-time for one’s self. Failure to do so will certainly result in burnout, and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve suffered it. Nice post :)

Comments are closed.