In one of my more recent posts I made reference to the idea of being busy doing nothing. And although this isn’t an ideal feeling or state to be in I think it is safe to say that we have all been there at some point or another in our lives. Like myself, I think most people like to make others happy by being fairly agreeable or somewhat passive when it comes to doing things. It can be argued that people like us better when we say “yes” and we can be seen as more of a “team player” both professionally and personally. But what happens when this subconscious characteristic begins to get in the way of our purpose and/or intentions in life? Recently I’ve had this feeling of being overwhelmed and consistently busy much more than usual. My schedule seemed to constantly be packed and there just weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Work was suffering, my social life was suffering and I just couldn’t seem to find the appropriate balance between the two. It wasn’t until I took a reflective step back to ask myself what I was so busy doing that I realized what the issue at hand was. I was saying YES to nearly everything that came my way never taking into account whether the task truly served me in a positive way or not.
A few years back I remember consciously deciding that moving forward on one specific day I was intentionally going to say YES to everything because life was too short to deprive myself of any experience. The idea was I would sleep when I am dead. As amazing as it sounded at the time, it eventually started to take a huge toll on my quality of life and not in the way I had imagined. I was consistently tired, forgetful, careless, and overall doing LESS than ever before.
It was recently a similar behavioral pattern to this that I had found myself in once again causing much of my angst, yet this time it was more on the subconscious level and that was something I needed to get to the root of. So how would I be able to create a shift around this mindset? Well I think the biggest hurdle is coming to terms with the fact that it is virtually impossible to do everything for everyone. As much as our ego would like to believe we are capable of all things, which we very well might be, doing them all at the same time is something that doesn’t work. I don’t care how well you are able to multitask ultimately the bottom line is that something will inevitably be compromised.
History and science proves that schedules and routines are found to be highly effective for a reason. When we stick to a schedule or a routine we are more focused on the task at hand and have ability to generate more energy toward what we intend on accomplishing.
Therefore, the first thing I suggest is to account for your time by writing everything down. And I don’t just mean the big important things like staff meetings, appointments, conference calls, etc. Yes, these things are important and will typically make up the bulk of your day but it is just as important to take account for the little things as well. Begin with the time that you intend to wake up and that by which you would like to go to sleep. When do you eat breakfast, the time you allocate to commute in the morning whether it’s to work, or school? Are you planning on a lunch date, or afternoon coffee? How long in addition to the sitting time do you need to get there? When do you plan to work out? Are you meeting friends for dinner or are you cooking at home? Do you need to stop by the grocery store?
Nothing in this case is too small.
Creating visual points of reference around the elements of time is crucial. By writing things down or penning them into a digital calendar you are able to concretely see what you are actually doing with your day and how effectively you are utilizing your time. Are you overworking to do certain things? Does the value or ROI of certain tasks far outweigh the effort you have to put in? Are there areas or tasks that you can scale down to cut time and energy? These are the types of questions you should be asking yourself as you go through your schedule.
Next, I’ll ask that you start to place value on each item you have chosen to give time to. I use the following three point scale… Non-negotiable (meaning it absolutely must happen or get done come hell or high water; HIGH priority), Negotiable (Important but with flexibility pending consequence; MEDIUM priority) and Flexible (something of less importance that can easily be moved without consequence to another date and time; LOW Priority). How you decide if something is of HIGH priority vs. LOW priority is going to be based on your specific goals and the outcome you would like to achieve. There is no right or wrong here. Once you have given value to each action do you find that you have more LOW priority items on your list than HIGH priority? Or vice versa? And what does this mean for you? Hopefully this is the place where you will gain specific clarity around what and who it is that you are saying yes to. Do you find that your schedule is balanced or is it tipped in favor of certain activities or obligations over others? Are there certain times that automatically stick out because you dread or love doing something? What would happen if those activities were eradicated or expanded within your schedule? How would productivity levels increase or decrease? Does your day become more effective? How does the overall outcome of your life start to shift? Get honest with yourself here and you’ll see the necessary changes begin to take place.
Quality over quantity is huge element to remember in almost everything we do. From work to personal aspects of our life when you focus on the quality of things that you have or how you spend your time vs. the quantity of things that you have or can fit into a day, you start to win at life. Your purpose and intentions begin to become realized and the quality of life and how you spend your days increases exponentially. You’re miraculously no longer tired, empty, and careless. Your life in turn gains new meaning and light. You’ll also begin to notice positive shifts in your mood and mental capacity. So this week I encourage you to start working on building quality within each and every day that you are gifted, because you deserve it!