Have you ever found yourself feeling frantic, doing things at breakneck speed yet not managing to get “there” in time, whatever there might be? Did you try to go faster, hoping that then you will finally finish those tasks that are assaulting you - perhaps tasks that are not very important at all, and have time to do the things you want? Does going faster really work?
Do you have a clear idea about what the things you need and want to do are, or do you find yourself stressed out that you might have forgotten something? Do you know how long the things you are currently taking on will take? Do you have an overview of what’s stuck and what’s working? Do you have a big picture of what your current obligations and commitments are, including the ones to yourself?
Saying yes to people when we don't want to is in some ways like being a shopaholic. Being a shopaholic adds a lot of money debt to our account, for the pleasure of having beautiful things right now. Saying yes to people when we don’t want to adds lots of time debt to our account. If you are good with money management in fact, and averse to credit card debt, I want you to imagine, every time you are considering saying yes to something you might regret later, the sound of a till swiping your credit card.
We have heard a lot about deep work lately. But what we don’t hear enough about is how deep work will not result in a good life balance.
Most of our time is spent in routines. We make our morning coffee and maybe look through our email in the morning. We take our lunch break, then meet with a certain colleague to eat together on a bench in the park if the weather is nice on Thursdays. We light our candles and pour ourselves a glass of wine before getting into the bathtub. Or we settle down with a good book in bed for about an hour before our sleep time.
You may have heard it before: our brains are not made for lots of interruptions, and we shouldn’t be multitasking. This is because, when we multitask, we only get a boost, a feeling of doing more, when we keep on switching tasks. But the reality is that this constant switching between contexts costs the energy of our minds and, without realizing, we actually are much less productive when we switch than when we stay on one activity for a longer period of time.
Do you find yourself constantly working on a project, gaining flow and traction in it, but with little time and focus left for the others? You are not alone. Most of us are very good when focusing on one thing for long periods of time. They are times when we would like to give our undivided attention to one project, and get it off the ground as fast and well as we can (Mission Go get one project deals with this). And sometimes we afford to do this. But they are also times at which we must or want to juggle different projects, and make progress on two or more fronts. Some of these times are obvious because of our work schedule. Some are not obvious, but are easily detected on the inside of our mind.
It is not rocket science and you probably heard this one before: work in work time, play in play time. Still, between knowing it and applying it there is a gap. And it is impressive how far this technique, when applied, can take you out of chaos land into relaxed, energized and motivated work land, and how many people think play and relax time is optional, something that can and almost should be invaded by work whenever it is necessary.