a life of hidden work

try the tool at the end of the article to connect to all areas of your life – including hidden work!

In setting up my plans for 2023, I do a monthly tarot spread and the theme for January was Create

It turns out that “creating” doesn’t involve a whole lot of “producing”, and I now understand why February’s theme is Share. January was the background foundational work, the hidden work, that takes up those precious hours that I have available to dedicate to all things connect your dots. So while I’m sure it would be amazing to create AND produce AND share all about it, there has to be a prioritization and balance. 

Which brings me to the topic of hidden work in general. It turns out I’ve built a (couple of) careers on it. 

Here on CYD, we talk a lot about that ever changing “balance”, and a lot of that nebulous idea of balance often revolves around the unnamed hidden work that we do on a daily basis. We simply don’t even recognize exactly how much hidden work there is. We easily brush it aside into the periphery pile of things we just do. it’s certainly not the exciting Things We Do that we explicitly talk about with friends. This type of hidden work includes things like logistical and administrative tasks, finances, maintaining our relationships, taking care of our physical and mental health, and that not-so-public state of creating information and materials. While it is important to prioritize these tasks and make sure they are getting done, it can be easy to overlook the amount of time and energy they actually require.

Even if we take a general hidden work example of managing our finances, we can see this includes multiple individual tasks like budgeting, paying bills, and sending and receiving invoices. These tasks may not seem like a lot, but they can take up time and energy, even if we are organized and efficient with our approach. And – as with much hidden work – falling behind has significantly greater consequences in the long run than the time it would take for the task at hand.

That knowledge doesn’t always make it easier to prioritize and complete it.

It can be really tempting to dive into doing the exciting stuff without laying the hidden groundwork, and sometimes we can truly learn and do our best work by just jumping in! And it is just as important – if not more important – to pause and understand what we just did including all the hidden tasks, and how it will impact our lives, business and well-being. 

In everything we do, there is critical baseline work that sets us up for success. It’s not always the sexy stuff, and can be really easy to ignore, like the dust that appears in sudden spring sunlight because we ignored cleaning the blinks, or a down website because a certificate wasn’t renewed. When creating something new, decide in that moment how that impacts your current priorities: will other projects need to slow down? Will other hidden tasks like bills or laundry take the hit? 

If you have the ability to pause or delegate some pieces of hidden work, that can be a great option. But not all hidden work can or should be delegated. Taking care of our physical and mental health is a critical aspect of hidden work. This includes exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep, and managing stress. While these tasks are essential for our overall well-being, they can also be time-consuming and feel demanding. We can delay these for a short time, but understand for yourself what is required to prioritize yourself and your wellness so that you have the energy and capacity for all the other Things You Do.

Keep connected and mindful of each area of your life, even those that aren’t as shiny or in the spotlight. 

Connect your dots a bit deeper. Draw out your hidden work with the life web tool 

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