How To Do More Of What You Love

And Less of What Drags You Down

How many times have you wished for more time or thought you never had enough time to get it all done? Perversely, the other side of this coin is “brag-plaining”. You know, the person who talks about how busy they are and considers getting four hours of sleep a night something to be proud of?

Maybe you’ve been this person at times; unfortunately, I know I have been.   We all want to be more productive and less busy. Note: activity does not = accomplishment.

If it seems harder than ever today to get stuff done that’s because it is.  The reality is that nearly all our institutions equip us with skills and a mindset for being really great industrial age workers when we live in a hi-tech, hi-speed knowledge economy.  No wonder we feel overwhelmed most of the time.

Sage Advice from the Past

Ironically, we can turn the tables on our productivity dilemma with some sage advice from the past.

My great grandmother’s approach to getting stuff done in a nutshell was “I just take it (life) like it comes, not like I want it to be”.  The words of Vietnam POW Admiral Jim Stockdale that have come to be known at the “Stockdale Paradox embody the same idea in a fuller way:

  • Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be
  • Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties

That approach and mindset is the foundation for successfully dealing with most things in life and your productivity is no exception.  However, you still need a framework to successfully execute and maximize your ability to get stuff done.  That’s where I think Michael Hyatt’s “Free To Focus” (FOF) productivity course fills a gap and provides an reality-based model to leverage your productivity.

Learn to Recognize

Reflecting on my experience after taking his online FOF course in the fall, I think these are the key elements of his model that turn the current way we think of productivity, and it’s industrial age twin sister time management, on their head:

  • Recognize you can’t manage time– you can only manage yourself, your priorities and your energy.
  • Recognize your self-limiting beliefs– once you do you can replace ones like “I don’t have the time” with “I have enough time to accomplish at least one thing that matters most.”
  • Recognize what you really want to be and do– these are the things for which you have both passion and proficiency. When you do operate in this zone you experience “flow”  and freedom, even when working hard!

What’s Your “Zone”?

Once you get your mindset where it needs to be and know where you really want to go, it’s time to look at where you are really at. To do so requires you recognize where your current action and productivity intersect with your passion and proficiency. Hyatt calls this the “Freedom Compass” and describes four zones:

  1. Desire Zone- you have both passion proficiency; it’s the “true north” where you experience flow and freedom.
  2. Disinterest Zone- you have proficiency with no passion; you’re good at these things and they still leave you bored and drained.
  3. Drudgery Zone- you have neither passion nor proficiency; these are simply a grind and leave you drained.
  4. Distraction Zone- you have passion and no proficiency, therefore these are often an escape. If an activity in this zone isn’t learning something that might move into your Desire zone then drop it like a bad habit.

The Key

The key now is to start doing more of what’s in your desire zone and doing less of everything else. Simple? Yes. Easy? Not initially. This approach does get easier as you learn how to spend more time getting stuff done in your Desire Zone. Hyatt’s FOF course is a great tool and one I highly recommend when it launches again in the fall.

Remember, regardless of whether the facts of your current situation are brutal or not, retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties along the way.

We all have 24/7 and time, unlike energy, is a non-renewable resource.  And while will-power is energy draining, accomplishing what matters most is freeing and energy replenishing.

What would it do for you to spend  50% more time in your favorite “Desire Zone” activity?

Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear about it.