"Take care, sir," cried Sancho. "Those over there are not giants but windmills.
Does it ever seem like you are working hard, but not making progress? Sometimes we fill our lives up with work that seems important, but it's not. I call this Faux Work.
In Miguel de Cervantes' classic story, Don Quixote looks at the landscape and sees giants. He wants to charge into battle to fight these giants. Sancho Panza, his loyal squire, looks at the same landscape and sees windmills. Sancho calls Quixote back to reality.
We often charge toward things that don't really matter. It is easy to get distracted by projects, tasks, and initiatives that seem important, but waste our time. For example, you might spend more time tweaking your system than actually working. Or, you might take frequent peeks at social media or email during the day. This often happens when we feel negative about the pace or quality of our genuine work. Procrastination can, for a moment, relieve pressure.
Faux work hooks us because it seems interesting, relevant, and timely. It often begins with a small hook such as a notification, a link to a website, or an email with a special promotion. Sometimes it begins with a noble intention such as having a desire to get more organized. There is a sudden rush of excitement as you chase this new project. Endorphins fire as you tell yourself that this is going to make a big difference. You can become entangled in sub-projects and false priorities. Pressure mounts because you know that you are avoiding the genuine work. When you surrender to the pull of faux work, a vicious cycle takes root. The further you get away from what you need to be doing, the more likely you are to surrender to the faux work. This becomes a self-perpetuating loop.
Quiet your inner Don Quixote that wants to waste energy on illusory projects. Allow your inner Sancho Panza to help you see the facade of faux work. Stop being blown around like a windmill. See your work and charge forward!