Jeremy Côté

Make, Make, Make

We hear people say this all the time. Always be doing the next thing. Don’t let yourself get stagnant. When you finish your current project, make sure you have the next thing in mind.

That’s fine advice for people who struggle to make work on a consistent basis, but it’s terrible for those who already do the work of showing up. It can cause people to focus on their work even more than is necessary (or, in some cases, healthy).

I am one of those people who can find themselves pushing more and more, even when it’s not needed. When I see people talk about doing their work every day, I see that as a personal challenge to do the most I can with each day. I’m already doing a lot, but hearing this kind of message is a catalyst to do more.

The problem is that this doesn’t work forever. We can work ourselves into the ground if we want, but it’s not a sustainable recipe.

“But wait,” you might say. “I see people who do their work every single day, and they are fine. Why can’t I do the same?”

It’s true. There are some people who can keep going every day for years. However, what you will find again and again is that they do this one thing at the exclusion of much else. Instead of trying to do ten different things at once, they decided to put their focus into one thing, and their daily output is a testament to that.

And yes, they might have other things now. But that’s because they have been doing their work for a long time, and know how to manage their time and effort. They didn’t start with everything at once. That’s a key mistake many of us make (myself included).

The advice of making new work all the time can be inspiring, but don’t take it too literally. You need to rest, and it’s okay to take a break at times. The work will always be there for another day.

Letting yourself become a servant to the mantra of “every day” is a recipe for hating what you do. Take care of yourself first, regardless of the frequency you do your work. Whether it ends up being every day or just a few times a week, you won’t regret being able to sustain the work over years and years.