True work or false hustle, what’s in your week?

This article will post at 6:00 a.m. on Monday morning – my most hopeful hour of the week. Five work days stretch out in front of me and I’m determined to make each one count. I’ve got my to-do list in hand and I’m raring to go. Nothing will get in my way.

Or so I tell myself as I head to my desk. And I do pretty good until the first distraction, and the next, and the next . So goes my days.

messy_desk_pc_4215Suddenly it’s late Friday afternoon and I’m wondering where the week went. I’ve been nonstop busy, but not necessarily with things that matter. In the words of a writer over at the FastCompany blog, I’ve been conned by the “false hustle.”

What’s that, you ask?

“False hustle is when you expend your energy on tasks that don’t ultimately help you reach your goals.” That’s the FC definition.

Or put another way, it’s letting the urgent (or what seems so) crowd out the important. As the FC writer warns, “it’s too easy to fool ourselves into equating busy with productive.”


If my sad story has a familiar ring, you’ll want to read the FC article for yourself. But don’t expect a detailed plan for putting the false hustle in its place. Beyond three simple questions to ask about how you’re using your time, the author leaves it to readers to determine their own next steps – which is appropriate, since everyone’s day, work, and goals are unique.

That said, there’s value in sharing with friends our strategies for moving from mere busyness to productivity. We can learn from, encourage, and support each other in facing down the false hustle.

So here’s my intentions in bullet points:

  • Drawing upon my three words for the year, I will make prayer the first and last thing of the day. It’s going to take a hefty dose of divine intervention for me to break free from the false hustle. Book-ending the day with prayer should help me hold the course.
  • When a phone call interrupts my work, I’ll respond to the question “Is this a good time to talk?” with an honest “no” and schedule a time that’s better.
  • I will limit checking my email to no more than four times during the work day. As part of this goal, I’ll give myself permission not to feel bad in taking 24 hours to respond to a message.
  • I’ll move projects off my to-do list and onto my calendar, blocking out the hours that I’ll spend on each one and then guarding the time from everything but a true emergency.
  • Providing counsel free of charge to start-up and smaller faith-based nonprofits is an important part of my ministry as a consultant, but I’m prone to overdoing a good thing. So for a while, I will limit pro bono commitments to a half day in the weeks when I don’t have a trip and none in the weeks when I travel.

That’s my plan for beating the false hustle. What’s yours?

For other articles with a similar theme, see:

Friendship, vocation, and staying the course

When life flows on in endless work

Note to self: when evening gilds the sky, turn off the computer


What's your take on this topic?

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