Turn on the Lights

Every day when I come into my office, I turn on the lights. Not the main overhead lights, but a couple of desk lamps. Why is that significant?

To be honest, I didn’t see this as significant until recently. I’ve used these lamps on my desk for almost ten years. What started as practical purposes for illuminating an otherwise darkish work space. Light for reading and writing because of poor eyes has now become a trigger and a practice.

When the lights are flipped on its time to work. You leave behind what other worries and stresses you have and you focus on the work.

The lights are a trigger for my often sluggish brain and unmotivated hands. When the lights are on, it tells me you have something important to do. It might not be important to the rest of the world, but it's important for my calling, my space, and my area of influence.

A turned on light might be essential reading for solving a particular problem. The illumination of my cheap Ikea lamp may be for crafting a talk or sermon. Sometimes light is for editing a book, writing a book, or meditating on Scripture.

When the lights come on its time to focus. We waste much time on non-essential tasks: email, dooms scrolling on social media, YouTube, meetings, or texting a friend. When my lights come on its time for what Cal Newport calls Deep Work.

The vital work, essential stuff, the things that need our best creative and mental capacities.

I understand not everyone has desk jobs or does creative work. But whatever your vocation is, how can you turn on the literal or metaphorical lights?

What motivators, triggers, or practices do we need to tell ourselves: this work matters. How do we drown out the voices and noises that keep us from showing up, doing the generous thing, engaging with deep work, and serving others with our art?

Turn on the lights and see what happens.

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