There is never a shortage of time. Instead, there is a confusion of priorities. – Unknown
This quote was in one of my favorite personal finances blogs: http://financialmentor.com/
If you’re feeling busy, is it because you are doing busy-work?
Can you step back and clarify your priorities and invest your time with your true priorities?
The other stuff will likely take care of itself.
Time has a wonderful way of weeding out the trivial. – Richard Sapit
We’re almost at the end of another year. What did you spend it on?
Did you worry about things that didn’t happen?
Did you complain about slights that no longer matter or problems that worked themselves out?
What do you want to carry over into next year?
What do you want to discard?
If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be: “meetings. – Dave Barry
If you didn’t laugh out loud at this quote, then check your pulse. Even if you didn’t think it was LOL funny as I did, you probably still agree. Who wants more meetings?
What meeting can you cancel in the next month? Perhaps you and a colleague get called into similar meetings, and you can each attend half and trade notes.
What other task on your to do list can you cancel? Sometimes things just end up as a must-do out of habit. Take the time to reconsider all your tasks and decide anew if it stays or goes.
A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided – Tony Robbins
What is one step you mean to take, or a change you mean to make, but haven’t?
Is this a goal that really doesn’t matter? Have you changed your mind, and the goal doesn’t matter anymore?
Are you not sure of the next step and need support?
Is there something else you can focus on, even for the next week or two, to move your energy from procrastination into action mode? Once you get moving towards any other goal, if this one really matters, you’ll come back to it with a renewed commitment.
Laziness means more work in the long run. – CS Lewis
Have you ever neglected to do a small amount of maintenance, only to have an urgent emergency to attend to later on that cost a lot more money, time and grief? This might be taking an extra half hour with your direct report to hand off an assignment or blocking off an hour each week to check in on existing clients or putting away those supporting documents in their rightful place so you have them readily available as needed.
What if you just assume everything takes 10, 15, 30 minutes longer than you schedule, and you use that bonus time to invest in these preventative items?
What if you block off one lunch hour or one half day or one early morning before work to knock off these often-overlooked activities?
What is one item you can do right now that doesn’t have a deadline but you KNOW it will help later on?
I never worry about action, but only inaction – Winston Churchill
Inaction is a choice to do nothing. You do take an action by doing nothing – you watch possibilities pass by.
Maybe it feels less risky to do nothing. Well, you have minimized the risk from taking action. But you have increased any risks that come from the inaction. It can be risky to do nothing – inertia sets in, problems become larger, opportunities become more distant.
It’s easier to course correct than to get started. That’s why I love Churchill’s quote. With action, you’re in motion and you can tweak, adjust, refine as needed. With inaction, you have to amass the momentous energy to lift off and start from nothing.
What action can you take today?
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.– Annie Dillard
I’ve been thinking about this a lot because I’ve been particularly harried these days. I said Yes to too many things, and these are high-stakes commitments that must get fulfilled. So it’s crunch time, get-fewer-hours-sleep time. Is this how I want to spend my days? (Rhetorical question, of course, as the answer is No. I need to figure out a better way to get to my goals without losing myself in the process.)
Do you say Yes too much, causing day after day of busyness rather than the life you want to have?
What are some thing you can do day-after-day or week-by-week that would add up to the life you want?
How can you be more intentional about time spent?
Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started — David Allen
It’s February. The momentum (and pressure) of the New Year has died down. What have you started that you haven’t finished? Can you drop it?
Sometimes not finishing is a good thing. You do enough to realize this isn’t the right move, hobby, next step to take, and then you know enough about yourself that you redirect your efforts. That’s a good example of not finishing.
But sometimes not finishing is inadvertent. We meant to continue, but other things got in the way. If it still matters, resolve to finish. Get the support, clarification on next steps, blocks of time, or whatever you need to get to the end.
Either way, you don’t want open items running around in your mind or your schedule. It’s like a computer that didn’t properly shut down an application and then needs to use extra resources to keep something unwanted running in the background. Reboot! Either redirect to begin anew or resolve to finish.
The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little — Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn
The big things in life come down to little moments – for me, it’s making pancakes in the morning for my 12-year old. To her, it’s a big thing because she loves it so much. But it’s also a little thing because it takes just 20 minutes. Now it does require the presence of mind to stop what I’m doing and make the time to make the pancakes.
Is this a contradiction of the Don’t-Sweat-The-Small-Stuff school of advice? I don’t think so, since both our valid. In the pancake example, stopping what I’m doing is not sweating the small stuff. Often I’m in the throes of just one more email or check out that interesting blog post…Sometimes that’s big stuff (an email to pitch a new project, a blog post that points out something interesting about someone you will be meeting with). But oftentimes, we get swept up in the small stuff of day-to-day unnecessarily and unconsciously.
So we need to be more conscious of the little things and little moments that matter. What is the pancake equivalent for you? What activity, though seemingly little, matters a lot? How can you do more of these little things and have more of these little moments?
Happiness is activity — Chinese fortune cookie
A lot of times we over-think things. We weigh decisions that are not yet upon us – I just got an interview at company X, but do I really want to work there (or even more inconsequential, do I really want that commute)? We replay options and scenarios again and again in our mind, even though we can’t possibly know the value of any of them without taking further steps. We worry about what might be or what might happen or what people might think, even when nothing has occurred yet.
Anxiety feeds on the unknown. Taking action diminishes the unknown and therefore the anxiety. Focusing on activity rather than analysis makes you happier.
Happiness is also supported by activity because getting our body moving increases energy. It also improves concentration. At times it feels like my cardio workouts are the only time my mind is quiet! Activity lightens our mood.
Where are you spending too much time thinking rather than doing? What activity can you add to your daily practice to fuel your energy, improve your focus and lighten your mood?