hoos

(online)

Justin Jacoby Smith is an organizer, web geek, Buddhist, and poet.

work that radically matters

I like to say that this is a blog about finding the time to do work that radically matters.

What the hell does that mean?

In my free time I'm involved in activism, organizing, and media work that aims for systemic changes in the way we live in this country, and on this planet. I feel a profound sense of urgency to fight injustice, but having been an activist for a decade, I know too well the burnout that follows Doing It All At Once.

I spent years pulling my hair out as I tried to balance classes, study time, a healthy personal life, and my political work. I would come to fall behind in classes, or miss crucial organizing meetings & events, or hear from people I cared about that they couldn't remember the last time they'd seen me. I had no idea how to manage all my commitments, and the blown deadlines combined with my belief in the importance of the work to create a profound sense of guilt–a heavy weight of failure that would only add to my anxiety. Eventually I collapsed: I moved to another city, transferred to a community college, and dropped out of politics entirely.

What I didn't know at the time was just how good I had it. When I re-entered political work with renewed frenzy half a decade later, I had a full time computer monkey job that put more demands on the use of my mind than any class in college ever did.

After not a little struggle and some very familiar headaches, I've found a way that works for me.

My paid-work is the most fulfilling its ever been, because I've learned how to get what I want out of my work week. The radio network where I host & produce is growing, because I've learned how to manage my commitments. The activist work I do often gets done with a freshly startling efficiency, because I've learned how to facilitate, and sometimes lead, groups of people with divergent ideas.

And so much more of it gets done with a smile on my face, because with the time and energy to do the work I believe in–work that matters–I'm as satisfied as I've ever been with my life. That's what work that matters radically is: striking at the root of the problems in our world, but doing it in a way that lets you live a full and healthy life--down to the root of yourself.

I'd like to use this space to show you how I got here, but much more importantly, I'd like to use this space to learn from you. I'm here to share the approaches that are working for me, and the steps I'm taking to improve. I'd love to hear from you: why my approach doesn't work, what doesn't work for you, what works for you instead, how you'd suggest I change the things I'm doing. Please get in touch.

I also have to acknowledge that Merlin Mann's work at 43 Folders and Back To Work have been huge influences on me, and a lot of the frameworks I use are politicized modifications of ideas I picked up through him.   If what I write here doesn't work for you, or seems too political or specific to organizers, I suggest you check out his incredible work. On my best days, I hope the things I write here are ideas he might find interesting.

I hope you enjoy the site, and I hope it helps you–maybe even pushes you–to do work that radically matters.