How intentional is your work?

I find that filling my working day is all too easy. When I complete one thing there’s always another three things ready to hop into its place.

In this context it’s seemingly quite easy to drift from one activity to the next without having to think too hard about it. That’s potentially problematic as you could fill all available time with low value actions that are largely disconnected from high value outcomes. For example, fixing 10 different symptoms when time would’ve been better spent sorting out the root cause.

It got me thinking about the importance of being intentional. About being able to plot the right direction of travel whilst ignoring the time wasting, sometimes scenic, detours.

So.. what might being intentional look and feel like?

  1. Being aware of your purpose and ensuring the work you do is aligned with it.
  2. Starting the day/week knowing what outcomes you want to achieve by the end.
  3. Being curious about what you do versus thoughtless execution.
  4. Arriving at decisions based on long-term principles rather than short-term reactions.
  5. Carving out space to chat with colleagues and build relationships versus only speaking to someone when you need something from them.

I suppose being intentional might be considered a privilege depending on whether it’s possible to say no to requests (demands?) or at least challenge the basis of them.

How might I recognise that my work has become ‘accidental’?

  • Did I sufficiently think something through before I agreed to do it?
  • Is this taking me away from something else I really should be doing?
  • Have the goal posts moved to such a degree that I’m no longer doing what I thought I was doing?
  • Am I doing the easy things instead of the right things?
  • Am I reflecting often enough to gain an awareness of any of the above?

Broadly speaking (strap in for metaphor!), I propose that being intentional is about investing the time in crafting your own map, and then regularly referring to your compass to ensure that you’re heading in the right direction.

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