Push, or putter?

Pies: A Product of Putter
Puttering may lead to pies – or paperwork.

I often struggle in reconciling planned action and setting goals with intuitive action and letting things unfold.

Sometimes I’m all about goals and to-do lists, working in fast and furious bursts of energy. This gives me momentum and confidence in my ability to set a goal, and do what needs to be done to meet it. Knowing I can do this is extremely empowering, and it gets things done.

Other times I need a softer stance to get through the work day, week, or even month, so I try something different: I putter.

Puttering’s definition gives it a bit of a bad rap, implying that it’s random and ineffective. I’ve chosen to re-appropriate the word and use it to imply activity that’s intuition-based and easy; not so random and often very effective. Language enthusiasts, please don’t hold it against me.

When I putter, I set micro-goals that stem from insights (I think cleaning my desk would be a good idea today.), or make micro-decisions based on gut feel (Which task is calling out to me right now?). Then I trust that I’m doing the right thing.

Often this leads to stuff like doing the dishes, folding the laundry, weeding the garden… but it might also lead to writing a blog post, drafting a service description, or filing receipts.

No matter where it leads, it’s gentle and spacious and can be just as productive as working toward set goals.

When it comes to goals, there’s a time to push, and a time to putter.

One complements the other.

Which one would work best for you today?

4 thoughts on “Push, or putter?

  1. Its funny, your putter method is my push method. I feel stressed when I have a lot of ‘have to’s’ on my to do list, so I make my list and then start on the item that calls to me. Keeping it a bit more free form gives me the illusion that doing some of the less fun tasks is my choice.

  2. It’s nice to know that puttering is good too. There are days when trying to follow the “to do list” just doesn’t happen. Today is a push mode day for me. I’ve got my top 5 things to do list and am crossing it off!

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