Ask many people how they are and they’ll quickly give you an answer something like this:
“Busy. Really busy.”
I mean, who isn’t right? Being busy has become synonymous with being of value. The busier you are, the more important you must be.
But the reality is that there’s a lot of busy busy people out there who are spinning their wheels, but not accomplishing much. Yes, they’re putting out lots of fires, they are doing lots of ‘stuff’ as they hastily make their way from one appointment to the next. But at the end of the day or quarter or year, don’t have an awful lot to show for it.
Never let the stuff that matters least keep us from that which matters most. Too often it does.
That’s because in our age of hyper-distraction, one of the biggest challenges many people face is staying focused on what matters most. If you’re like me, you’ve probably often felt pulled in multiple directions, regularly juggling (and dropping) balls in your efforts to manage conflicting commitments, responsibilities, and expectations. However, unless you’re careful, you can easily find yourself spread very thin and majoring in minor activities – super busy but not particularly effective. Sound familiar?
The year is still young leaving most of it for you to accomplish some pretty cool things. The challenge you, and everyone else who is feeling perpetually busy-busy-busy is to focus your time on the stuff that matters rather than on all the ‘minutia’ that can so easily occupy your days; to align with your top priorities and highest intentions. To help you discern the “major few” from the “trivial many” I’ve created a special worksheet for you – First Things First worksheet. Short of that, I invite you to take a minute to read my five strategies for focusing on ‘first things first’ and watch my video below. As you do, consider how you could be using your time in ways that align more closely with the highest intention you have for your life.
Never let the stuff that matters least keep, us from that which matters most. Too often it does. Here’s five strategies to help you live by design, not default .
1. Clarify what matters most
Before you fill up your calendar decide what you want to fill it up with. When what you’re committing to reflects what your committed to balance naturally sorts itself out. You can do many amazing things, but you can’t do everything. At least not all at once! Put aside time on a regular basis to look 12 months out and clarify the ‘most’ important things you want to accomplish in the various aspects of your work or business, your family, health/well-being, finances and other areas of your life. Where you have no vision, you’ll have a hard time doing what matters most.
2. Schedule your priorities
Unless you’ve got your ‘vital few’ activities scheduled into your calendar, the ‘trivial many’ will crowd into your day and over take it. Often what you don’t do is just as important as what you do! So be sure to block out chunks of time in your calendar to ensure the important things get done.
Just because you can do something well doesn’t mean you’re the person to do it. Think about the things that take up your day that could be done just as well (or nearly as well) by someone else, freeing up your time to focus on even more valuable things. Ask yourself “Is this the highest use of my time?” and if the answer is no, then consider who could do it for you.
Every choice you ever make involves a pay off. Sometimes they’re easy to accept. Others times, less so. The truth is that you can’t be in two places at once or do multiple things with 100% attention, now. You have to make trade-offs. Accept that and then make them intentionally. As I wrote in Stop Playing Safe, “ When you know your bigger ‘Why’ it helps you say no to the good things and focus on the great. “
5. Reset expectations
Managing your life based on the ‘wants’ of others puts you on a path to burn out and resentment (often toward the very people you were trying to help.) So set expectations and don’t let other people’s needs, ‘shoulds’, dreams and priorities crowd out your own. Likewise know that you don’t have to do everything, perfectly now in order for it to be done well. Often good enough is good enough!
To download my First Things First worksheet, click here.
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