Self-deception is an interesting process. It’s the practice of telling or convincing yourself that something false is true, or that something true is false. It comes in many shapes and sizes. It happens when we put on clothes that used to fit fine, but now are uncomfortably tight. Our minds look for any possible reason for this other than weight gain. Certainly these pants shrunk in the wash! Another word for it might be “denial.” It’s the creation of a “reality distortion field” that fits the narrative we want rather than the truth that is.
The biggest challenge with self-deception is that it’s almost always done unconsciously. After all, who would be foolish enough to consciously and intentionally lie to yourself? Self-deceiving is a very bad habit. It’s a potential-diminishing, and often self-destructive process.
One of the most common forms of self-deception involves the use of our time. Far more often than we realize, we thoroughly convince ourselves that we are:
- Busier than we really are.
- More productive than we actually are.
There are a variety of reasons for this internal fabrication of reality. For some, it’s an excuse for a lack of initiative, passion or engagement with their responsibilities. If I convince myself that I am already too busy with current life duties, then I can more easily dismiss new opportunities or responsibilities. It gives me a way out. I never have to grow, change or adjust my life. I create my comfort zone by telling myself that I am already “doing enough,” when in reality I may be doing far less than I’m capable of doing. Lazy people lie to themselves.
Another reason for mental manipulations about our available time and degree of productivity is that we falsely equate activity with effectiveness. Here’s a good, and honest reminder. Activity doesn’t mean you’re actually effective and productive. Busyness doesn’t automatically translate into meaningful progress.
In businesses and organizations there’s a “law” that describes the tendency of people to confuse activity with productivity. It’s call “Parkinson’s Law.”
This “law” was made popular by Cyril Parkinson, a historian and author from Great Britain. He observed that a person’s work generally expands to fill the time that is available for its completion.
Simply stated, if you’re assigned a task that can reasonably and effectively be done in a day, but you’re given two days to complete it, it’s likely that you’ll fill both days with some form of activity, even if it’s meaningless in getting the job done. Because more time is allotted, you create movement and busyness that is totally unnecessary for positive productivity.
This is why honest and regular evaluations of time are desperately needed. We so easily deceive ourselves and embrace the perspective that we’re busier than we actually are, and that all our activity means that we’re being productive.
Remember, the goal of life, and one of the main ways God will ultimately evaluate your life by isn’t the impressive amount of your activity. He’ll measure the level of your productivity. Fruitfulness is what He wants, and what we need. This requires the faithful, honest and wise use of your time.
Don’t be deceive by activity. Go for productivity!