Are You Squeezing The Most Out Of Your Day?
You May Think You Are, But You May Just Caught up in Busyness
We fly around all day, multi-tasking, or trying to, working hard. Convinced we’re on track towards our goals. At the end of our day, we wind down and reflect on what we think we’ve accomplished. What? That’s it? But I was so busy…
And you were. With doing things. Probably a lot of “life-important” things, like paying bills, meeting work deadlines, playing chauffeur, doing the laundry, grocery shopping, making dinner. Ordering take-out if you’re lucky.
The things we all have to do to keep our lives chugging along in at least a moderately orderly fashion. Unless we still live at home, and our mom’s do it for us — thank goodness for moms.
But, how many “goal-important” things did you cross off our list. If you had a list. Or did your whole day just get sucked up in the great vacuum cleaner called “life-gets-in-the-way.”
We like to think we’re being smart, pro-active. And, like most of us, I’d like to think I’m a bit smarter than I probably really am. It’s a cherished illusion. But even smart people can be foolish — at times, we can act downright dumb. Even starting out with all the best intentions, we can end up shooting ourselves right smack in the a**.
But simply being a bit sharper than some of the other knives in the drawer doesn’t save us from “busyness.”
We are so sure the marathon effort we’re putting in, this pile of tasks we’re completing, this absolute mountain of “stuff” we’re churning out , must all amount to something major.
But when we catch our breath at the top of the mountain we just climbed, and we turn and look back on our day, we see quite plainly, it wasn’t a mountain. It was just a hill — and not even a very big one,
On a scale of one to ten, with ten being achieving one of our goals, we racked up maybe a point zero two. If we’re lucky. And, how much of what we accomplished was actually working towards our goals.
After all, haven’t we just put in a full day of extreme multi-tasking? That’s like X-treme sports only way less fun.
Well, for one thing, there’s really no such thing a true multi-tasking. We call what we’re doing multi-tasking but it isn’t.
Our brain isn’t capable of paying equal attention to more than one thing at a time. It’s just how we’re wired. However much we have come to believe we are capable of it, we’re not really multi-tasking. Only one of the tasks has our focus while the other becomes background noise.
We’ve become so adept at jumping from task to task to task, briefly and serially focusing on each task, that we fool ourselves into thinking we’re multi-tasking.
But there’s one very simple, easy solution to getting caught up in the busyness — making a list. And following it.
My mom was a great one for lists. And when I worked in theater, I used a master list to keep track of all the lists I needed for each element of the production.
I had a list of items to cover off with the costume designer, a list of issues to discuss with the production manager, a list of key points to touch on in the section of text we’d be working on in the next rehearsal… and so one.
Lists work. A list doesn’t have to be part some big, spread sheet using a fancy program. It can just be an ordinary, handwritten list. Like laying out your clothes for out your clothes for the next day before you go to bed. What? Doesn’t everybody do this?
Okay maybe you don’t… But make the list anyway. Write down at least one thing that is going to move you closer to your goal.
Maybe you decide you’re going to send in five submissions tomorrow. What do you have to do to get those submissions ready to go? Do you have to reformat the text? Finish proof-reading? Write a bio — a synopsis? Make a list of what you have to do for each submission.
Be honest with yourself here. Don’t overload your day. You’ll just be setting yourself up to fail if you set the bar so high you can’t possibly get it all done.
Maybe you’ll find you only have time to get one project ready to send, what with everything else you need to look after — spouse, kids, lunches, laundry, shopping… Yes, guys have to do these tasks too — no-one is immune.
Then, tomorrow, do whatever is on your list. Don’t think about it. That’s why you made the list, just like laying out your clothes the day before. Now you don’t have to think about what to do — you can just concentrate on the doing part.
Don’t put it off ‘til later. Just do it. Do it exactly as you laid it out in your list — all the steps you noted.
And then, the tomorrow, when you feel like you’ve just climbed a mountain, you will find you’ve actually moved yourself closer to achieving your goals.