After a week of vacation, I thought I was ready to get back to work. I was very intentional on unplugging during my time away. I made sure work did not follow me on vacation. My only plan was to do some reading and spend time with my family. Why then was it so hard to get back to work after vacation?
I felt rested and recharged. I enjoyed my time with my family. Why was my productivity at an all-time low?
For two entire days, work and I were at war.
I was having a difficult time finding the motivation, energy and passion for my work. It wasn’t until I sat down to analyze my problem that I discovered why.
Most of the work waiting for me was “reactive” work.
Reactive work can come over you like a tidal wave. It can snuff out your creativity, drain your energy, and wane your enthusiasm.
Reactive work includes:
- The loud, nagging task that is not important, but feels urgent
- Other people’s agendas that are now waiting on you
- The thing you said “yes” to without thinking of when you were going to do it
- Emails you cannot delete because they require a thoughtful response
- Emails that require a decision to be made by you
I decided in that moment of realization I still had the power to choose.
I chose to do creative work first.
Do Creative Work First
Most mornings for me are solely dedicated to daily, creative work. I consider creative work to be anything related to creating value through text, audio, or video. For me this includes blog posts, books, podcasts, and videos for products and courses.
For you, creative work is anything that allows you to be proactive in your work.
You will find incredible momentum when you do creative work when you are the most alive, alert and enthusiastic. I first began to value creative work in the mornings after reading The One Thing by Gary Keller. In the book he likens our willpower to the battery of a smart phone.
Your willpower and creativity has a green light in the morning, but by late afternoon your wiped out and your battery indicator is red. Doing creative work in the morning gives room for your best work.
Do Reactive Work Second
As best you can, push reactive work to the afternoons. Religiously protecting my mornings has been the secret to any success I have achieved.
As mentioned earlier, reactive work can be a combination of people you need to meet or call, to dos that have come to the forefront, business related tasks and email you need to catch up on.
This is the main reason why you shouldn’t start your day in your email inbox. Checking email first thing in the morning sets you down a path of reactive work instead of creative work.
Don’t give into triggers that lead to reactive work first thing in the morning. Instead establish triggers that lead to creative work.
A Word for Side Hustlers
“That’s great Jonathan, but I work a full-time job and do creative work on the side.”
I know how you feel, I was there once when I had to fit my passions in the margin of my life. I didn’t have the freedom to spend a morning at Panera Bread fully immersed in my writing. However, not making time for creative work or finding excuses why I couldn’t do creative work wasn’t serving me well. That’s when I made the decision to work for myself first.
Work for Yourself First
Things began to take a turn for me when I finally made the ultimate decision to work for myself first. Before I gave of my time to my employer, I worked for myself first.
For me, that was between 5-7 am in the morning. I knew it was the best time of the day for me to become fully immersed in creative work. The early hours of the morning had the fewest interruptions.
If you manage yourself well and get to bed early, you will find 10+ hours a week to work on your passion.
Restructure your schedule for one week. Place your creative work in the mornings and push reactive work to the afternoons. You’ll never go back to reactive work in the mornings.
Question: What works for you? How do you get stuff done? You can leave a comment by clicking here.