As a project manager at TandemLaunch Technologies, getting things done is my job. Forget all the fancy things you find in my job description like “establishing, tracking and implementing the budget” or “assure communication between the stake holders” – that’s all just nice marketing talk for GETTING THE JOB DONE. Getting the job done includes everything from “Maria, we need one of the new Kinects they only sell in the US…. Oh, and we need it tomorrow,” to “Maria, Air Canada lost the bag with all the prototypes. My meeting is tomorrow. You have 24 hrs.” (The solution, in case you wondered, is harassing Air Canada, and being insistent about the Frequent Traveller status my boss has until they feel bad. Really bad. Really, really bad. Then ordering the Kinect online and shipping it to the hotel my boss is staying at.)
Yes, I love my job. But sometimes (and I’m sure you know this feeling), focusing is hard. There are the photos my friend put on facebook of her new puppy. There is this interesting article about the financial crisis in Europe on nyt.com. There is the co-worker who asks if you might join her for a coffee at Starbucks. In today’s work environment, the distractions are everywhere. So how do I focus?
I’ve learned a trick that is easy, but surprisingly effective. The next time you have a hard time focusing on what you’re supposed to be doing, and the temptation of sweet uselessness is taking your thoughts prisoner, I want you to recall this simple sentence: I am a producer, not a consumer (Some of you might go “Aww. Incredible!” here, but for everyone else, let me explain).
Being a producer means doing something productive instead of surfing aimlessly on the web. Being a producer means adding value to your job, to your venture, to your study group instead of just riding piggyback on everyone else’s efforts. Being a producer means getting things done, getting them done on time (or even ahead), thinking proactively to make sure that happens, and enjoying the rewards of a job well done.
Being a producer means understanding that the long term reward is worth more than the short term payoff of those puppy photos. Sure, in the short term you may enjoy some warm and fuzzy feelings, but they will be followed by the sluggish feeling in the pit of your stomach when you leave the office knowing that you didn’t get anything done. Horrible, right? Even though photos of puppies might give you a great feeling, this feeling will not last. And then the subsequent, “Urgh, I need to get the budget done in time for the meeting tomorrow. Shit. I guess I need to work at it from home.”
So the next time you find yourself in an endless Facebook/Reddit/newspaper frenzy, ask yourself this: How does this help me with my career? Does it help me add value to what I’m doing (I’m not talking about adding value to conversations at the water cooler about this women who gave birth to a 7 kg child. Real value)? Because only if you’re creating more value than you are consuming, will you ever be successful.
Think about it.