"Is there anything I need to be doing?"
What a great yet, simple question; one that we could all probably ask ourselves more often. Our new Social Media Manager, Chris Eckhart, just asked it aloud to those of us sitting around our communal work table. We kind of just shook our heads no; it seemed like Chris had already tackled quite a few things on his to-do list. Plus, he had already said he had something at 1 o'clock and he asked if there was anything he needed to do, around 12:40.
"Um, start packing up your things?" was my initial thought. "Check Twitter or Facebook?" was my second. Whether you're a small startup or a Fortune 500 company, success and productivity begin with having the right mindset.
In college, I remember my peers would often get in 'one-upping' contests, seeing who had pulled the most all-nighters. I never contributed to those discussions because, believe it or not, I never pulled an all-nighter. I'm not pretentiously implying I didn't need to because I was such a diligent studier or because I was one of those geniuses who didn't need to open a book before a test. No, for me, it was always the way Megan McArdle describes it in her book 'The Up Side of Down,' when she quotes a renowned psychologist:
“Instead of studying,” writes the psychologist Edward Hirt, “a student goes to a movie the night before an exam. If he performs poorly, he can attribute his failure to a lack of studying rather than to a lack of ability or intelligence. On the other hand, if he does well on the exam, he may conclude that he has exceptional ability, because he was able to perform well without studying.”
I never did see all-nighters as being worth it, though, because the amount of those ten or so hours spent at the library, probably only two or three were actually devoted to studied - the rest were probably spent socializing - in person and online. I'm afraid that, for young people, the 9-5 workday may resemble the all-nighter they pulled in college. We show up and, theoretically we may think we are being productive - but are we really?
It's so easy for us to look forward to finishing a project - or if we're being honest, one third of a project - just so we can check Instagram again. Our milestones in life are becoming increasingly miniscule. What if we did away with that model, and instead, whenever we finished a project we started thinking about what we could do next.
After getting little feedback from the rest of the table, Chris didn't pack up his things and head to his 1 o'clock meeting a little early. He actually did the exact opposite; he unpacked his camera and started shooting some B-roll footage for an upcoming office video. And now, I am feverishly writing this blog post so as not to be caught on camera doing nothing.