Do What You Love

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Business Optimizer asks: Is loving what you do the biggest productivity boost of all?

Steve Jobs said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do”. Jobs’ words build on the advice of Confucius two thousand five hundred years earlier: “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.

So, if these inspirational leaders are to be believed, choosing to do something you love can help with job satisfaction, and help to inspire great work. Could doing what you love also help with productivity?

Productivity experts think so. Laura Vanderkamp says that getting things done often comes down to priorities – and, often, we place a higher priority on the things we enjoy.
Writing in the Guardian, Oliver Burkeman says, “By far the biggest predictor of whether something gets done is whether it’s fun to do. The secret of productivity is simple: just do what you enjoy.”

As with so many other things, however, loving what you do can be productivity’s greatest weakness as well as its greatest strengths.

While time might fly while you’re having fun – it can also be horribly easy to lose yourself in a task that should only take a few minutes when you’re loving it so much you’ve stopped watching the clock.

“Your favourite tasks are probably your happiest tasks,” warns Ann Latham in Forbes. “As a result, they tend to float to the top of your priority list, even when they have no business being there.”

She also warns that “disappointments involving your passions hit hardest. They are draining and deflating.”

She recommends some healthy doses of discipline, resilience, self-awareness and feedback from others are necessary if you are going to pursue what you love.

Burkeman acknowledges another challenge: many people don’t have the luxury of enriching, meaningful work – so they can hardly organise their days by focusing on what feels good.

So if you’re not doing what you love?

Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics at Duke University, Dan Ariely, suggests “Pick a ritual that you love – for me this ritual is the morning coffee – and connect it to a productivity-related activity. In my case, it has to do with writing… It’s almost a conditioned response, where I start working and I’m enjoying the coffee and writing at the same time.”