When Busy Doesn’t Equal Productive
Do you ever feel like you’re very busy achieving not much at all? Flat-out going nowhere in particular? Like a bogged car desperately trying to escape the mud? Lots of wheel-spinning, noise, effort and smoke but no actual traction? No progress? No shift? Are there times when you feel like you’ve got fifty balls in the air and you’re about to collapse in a heap? Do you ever arrive at the end of the week (month, year, decade), only to look back and wonder, “What did all that effort, energy and exhaustion actually produce?”
If you said yes to any of the above questions then maybe it’s time to prioritise? To focus on doing a few things well rather than fifty things poorly? Less chaos, more productivity. And this is something I should know a little about; I was once the king of over-commitment. If there was a way to squeeze something else into my already-overcrowded schedule, I would find it.
I never said I was smart.
More Than I Can Chew
Over the years there were times when I would feel negligent, lazy and pathetic if I wasn’t doing fifty things at once and milking every minute of my day and every ounce of my energy. Fortunately for me, I’m done with that not-very-clever phase of my journey. Done with the guilt. And done with the bite-off-more-than-I-can-chew mindset. As it happened, the only results I produced consistently were fatigue, frustration, disappointment and de-motivation. That is, I ended up doing a lot of things badly and almost nothing well.
Overall, a crap result.
A To-do (later) List
If you’re currently like I was for a long time then perhaps it’s time for you to stop (there’s a thought), be still for a moment (another thought), step back from your life (metaphorically or maybe even, literally), gain some perspective and space, make some tough but necessary decisions – the ones you’ve been avoiding since 1997 – and commit to prioritising your responsibilities, goals, time, energy, talent and even, your relationships.
That is, either cross a few things off your to-do list completely, or put them on your ‘to-do-much-later’ list.
In my time as a teacher and coach, it’s been my observation that many of us invest far too much time, energy, skill and talent where we shouldn’t. Under-achieving, wasting what we have and invariably, ending up back in the same place mentally, physically, emotionally, financially and practically; the place we don’t want to be. It seems that we confuse working hard with working smart.
Sometimes, our idea of working hard is actually working stupid.
When Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes
So, is your current approach proving to be effective? Be honest. If not, change it because if nothing changes (behaviours), nothing changes (results). For some of us, it’s time to stop being the martyr, the work-a-holic and the robot and start being the conscious thinker, chooser and creator of our ideal life.
Just an idea.
Sometimes it’s difficult to find real perspective and clarity about our life when we’re right in the middle of it; just as it’s hard for a player to have the perspective of a coach who isn’t in the middle of the action. Sometimes we need to get away from our world to be able to see it clearly. By this, I mean physically away; a different environment. Even if it’s only for a day or two.
Ever noticed how different life seems when you’re away on holidays, doing different things and functioning in a different environment? Invariably, we have a different perspective when we take a break from our day-to-day routine. We often see things more clearly and find it easier to make significant decisions when we’re not up to our elbows in our day-to-day stuff.
If you feel like you’re currently doing a lot of things poorly or if you’re simply not happy with the quality of results you’re producing in your world, then maybe it’s time for you to narrow your focus a little (or maybe a lot), put a few things on hold (or in the bin), invest your energy, time and talent in the right place (where you’ll get the best return) and do different to create different.
Here are some questions to help get you started with this:
1. What’s the best use of my time, energy and ability today?
2. What do I need to achieve today?
3. Am I the best person to do this job/task?
4. Can this wait?
5. In the context of my goals and priorities, is this important?
6. Is there a more effective way to get the job done?