Your system is perfectly designed to produce the results you are getting……are you getting what you want?” ~Anon
When asked, most people today say they feel like they have more to do than ever before. They also say they have less time and energy, despite technology that seems almost magical in some cases. In fact technology, along with many other changes, has made life busier, not less.
Most of us are running on an energy deficit these days. Sometimes it seems the goal is to get just enough gas back into our depleted tank to make it through the day versus keeping it topped off.
I operated on a deficit for years, despite consuming the latest time management tools, technology and productivity hacks. While those helped a bit, I mostly just got busier, more tired and had more things to do (including having to keep up with the latest system!). I confused time with energy and as a result had less of both.
To move beyond the energy crisis and into thriving requires a different view and approach. By focusing on and managing energy instead of time, we can get more of both.
Types Of Energy
Unlike a machine, human beings require more than one source of energy. The truth is we need four. And in order to use these for optimal performance we must value and know how to process each of them:
- Physical= Energy Quantity. The dichotomies are Expenditure vs Renewal. Knowing how to slow as well as go is vital.
- Emotional- Energy Quality. The dichotomies are Confidence vs Humility. Knowing and operating in your strength is key; knowing and embracing what isn’t is just as vital. Learn to feel good about both because how you feel profoundly affects how you perform.
- Mental- Energy Focus. The dichotomies are Analytic vs Creative. We need both and where focus goes, energy flows.
- Spiritual- Energy Purpose. The dichotomies are Self-care vs Service. You can’t give what you don’t have so protect the asset (i.e. you) as you give to something greater.
How You Can Get More
The pattern is that each type of energy has it’s own unique quality and opposite characteristics. Just as with Virtues, we must embrace opposites if we are going to flourish in life and business.
Indeed, it’s the pattern of embracing and integrating opposites that provides the rhythm of life and ability to engage in high-levels of sustained performance. Athletes have known this for years; corporate athletes have ignored it for years.
Time is a fixed resource…..everyone gets 24/7/365…..and there isn’t a single thing you or I can do to manage or get more of it. Our energy on the other hand, is a resource we can renew if we’re willing to embrace the oscillation between opposites it requires. Interestingly enough, when all aspects of our energy are renewed and focused, we get into a state of flow that can transform how we experience time.
Focus on and manage your energy, not time, and you’ll end up getting more of both.
Question- do you expect things to get more or less busy for you in the next year or two? If busier, what are your plans to manage your energy to keep up with the demand?
I believe in working for success much more than praying for it. Pray for maturity; work for success.” ~Fred Smith, Sr.
Why is it so hard to get stuff done sometimes, even easy stuff? There can be a lot of reasons. Some are good and some are just dressed-up excuses. Sometimes, it’s simply because we are “Stuck”. What isn’t so plain and simple is what to do about it.
Given our inability to sometimes get even simple, small tasks done as well as large, there seems to be an underlying principle at work. There’s probably a formal name for it, but I don’t know what it is. What I do know is that what’s easy to do is also easy not to do. And this tendency can be incredibly difficult to overcome….I know it has been for me.
While “Silver Bullet” solutions are rare, in this case it’s about close as it gets: accountability. Simply put, the power of accountability is critical and usually overlooked when it comes to getting the stuff done that matters most, both large and small.
2 Keys To Accountability
Here are 2 Keys to unlock the secret of accountability and making it work for you:
- Know What
- Small stuff- Accountability for the mundane, monotonous or incremental actions that in aggregate really matter. After all, success is merely a few disciplines, repeated every day. And failure is only a few errors in judgement, repeated everyday.
- Big Stuff- Accountability for the big projects. It’s the numerous projects that make up the whole that give accountability it’s legs here. Know what the “thin slices” would look like for you.
- Know How
- Say it
- Individually- Connect and ask someone else to hold you accountable to what you commit to do. Make sure the person you ask is both able and willing.
- Group- By saying what we are committing to in a group, we leverage peer pressure in a positive way. Holding ourselves accountable to a group has the added benefit of generating creative approaches we may not have thought of.
- Write it
- Writing something down not only serves as a tangible reminder to us, it also activates our brain in a powerful way that simply can’t be tapped by just thinking and talking to ourself. This quote by Michael Hyatt’s sums it up best.
- Whether it’s in the form of a SMARTER goal or daily checklist of important behaviors, writing it down is can be like flipping a switch when it comes to getting it done.
- Say it
Why Accountability Works
There are many reason, these are the ones I think contribute the most:
- It forces us to clearly definey what we are really saying we will do, especially when we write it out.
- It makes us aware of what we are saying we will do, which helps us better weigh the risks, consequences and rewards.
- It’s a form of “activation intent.” When we put accountability in place, we’ve actually taking a proactive step towards what we are after.
- It keeps our commitment(s) front and center because we now have answer to someone or something besides our own rationalizing brain.
- It brings positive peer pressure into play; no one wants to look bad or let someone down.
Whether it’s a BHAG goal or the small actions you want to transform into habits, sometimes your powerful “Why” just isn’t going to be enough for you to get it done. Your going to have to leverage the other side of that “Why” coin: accountability.
Accountability: It’s just as important as your powerful “Why” and sometimes more so.
What is it you want that your not experiencing or getting done these days? Take a look. If you haven’t incorporated accountability into the equation, it’s very likely the key to making it happen.
Please leave a comment or share an accountability “hack” that you’ve found works for you. I’d love to learn.
In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.” ~Lao Tzu
Choice is a good thing until you have too many and it isn’t. Especially when those things have to do with what you have to do. Deciding then becomes difficult and leads to The Overwhelm. The psychological term for it is “Decision Fatigue”.
I love flexibility..…it’s one of my core values. Unfortunately, I often let it get out of hand and it gets the best of me.
I’ve learned the hard way that freedom and choice, without context and criteria, can quickly leave you in a puddle of Decision fatigue. In short: overwhelmed and unable to move anything on your agenda forward, let alone the stuff that matters most.
Peter Drucker said that looking back from a historical perspective, the most important change seen won’t be technology. Instead, it will be the unprecedented volume and level on which people had to self-manage…..and were totally unprepared to do so. Unless something changes, that doesn’t bode well for the accomplishment, work-life balance and sense of calm everyone is seeking these days.
So what’s the answer to escaping The Overwhelm that’s overwhelming us?
Before answering, keep in mind 2 key reasons we get overwhelmed in the first place (according to an Essentialist philosophy):
- Too much social pressure
- The idea that you can have it all.
Unlike yesteryear, the number of external voices and choices we have today is unprecedented as are our expectations, which have become inflated beyond all measure. The other is timing- we think we can have all we want all at the same time. Why not? Social media has lowered the bar for access, increasing the things that compete for our attention and constantly feed us illusions.
The result? Trying to cram an increasing number of infinite things into a discrete, limited and already overflowing schedule.
The impact? The Overwhelm.
Now, how to get out of it:
- First- Prepare. recognize and embrace the fact that you’re going to have to say “No” to some good opportunities. In fact, as you become more successful you’re going to have to say no to some really great opportunities. Easier said than done; it takes a cultivated attitude of the heart and mind.
- Second- Pause. Take a deep breath, squeeze or open both hands widely, or take some action that will center you attention. It seems moving your physiology is a key to interrupting your pattern in the moment. It provides a window to put a pause between stimulus and response.
- Third- Propose. Ask yourself the key question “What’s most Important Now?”….as in, right now. Write down all the other important stuff on a list for later. Then, take an immediate next step toward it, even if its as simple as shutting off your phone screen.
The result? Focus
The impact? Eliminating The Overwhelm. And making progress on your priorities. Even…if….only….small.
You certainly can’t change all the stuff competing for your attention. You can change your mindset and what you do about it using three simple steps.
So,“What’s most Important Now?” (WIN) for you? Take a deep breath, and then take the next small step…..right now.
Urgent things scream; Important things whisper.”
Our knowledge economy gives us the illusion exists that there just isn’t enough time. False.
The reality is that there is just as much time in our current, crazy-busy age as there has been in any other. I know it doesn’t seem like it. In fact, I’ve complained far too often that there just isn’t enough time to get everything done. And I’m not alone. “I don’t have enough time” seems to be the mantra of our time.
Time is arguably is our most important resource, Time is non-renewable. Once a second is gone, that’s it….forever. We like to embrace the myth that we can manage time. We can’t, so forget about it: no one ever slowed a minute down….it’s still 60 seconds.
So how can we get the most out of time and why do some seem to get more out of it than others?
If there is one thing Einstein’s theory of relatively taught us, it’s that there is more to time than meets the eye. There was a lot we didn’t know about time then and that we still don’t know. One thing we do know about time is that our perspective can transform how we experience it.
2 Ways To View Time
The ancient Greeks looked at time through two lens: “Karios” and “Chronos”.
- “Chronos” is a quantitative view. It is simply Father Time’s ticking of the clock and unrelenting wheel of 60/24/7/365. Examples of Chronos is when time seems to stand still, drag on OR when when you feel hurried and harried trying to beat the clock.
- “Karios” is a qualitative view. While hard to define, it’s theologically related and refers to a favorable or advantageous moment. Being in “flow” is synonymous in many ways with karios and good way to think about it. Examples would be those moments when, because you were fully engaged and present, time seemed suspended or non-existent in a very pleasant way.
While we need both perspectives, Chronos is so predominate that our view of things has become tunnel-like and monchrome. We only seem to look back to the past or forward to the future. Life gets gray pretty quickly when you only focus on what you can’t change, re-experience or have yet to experience.
Transform Your View
The key difference between these two lenses is that Karios can only be experienced in the present, and that’s the secret to transforming it. When we focus on being fully in the moment, we can savor what we are doing, experiencing and are becoming in the process. And it doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy good memories bring or the anticipation of what’s ahead, its just that you do it in the moment and recognize these for what they give you in the moment…..a subtle distinction I know, but a very real one.
How You Choose to Is Up To You
So how do you practice being present or “in the moment”?
- Recognize when you’re out of it and living in the past or future- This can show up in number of ways. Regrets and “shoulda/woulda/couldas” are signals you’re in the past while the “want to/have to/need to” and “can’t wait to” are signals you’re in living in the future.
- Get in touch with yourself- Close your eyes, take a breath and at the same time a physiologic and emotional pulse-check. If you can’t name your current state then you’re likely less self-aware than you could be (It takes practice).
- Focus on what you can control- Your energy and priorities will give you the most leverage. Remind yourself you can’t control a single second of the clock. (it takes discipline and can become a habit).
- Focus on the task at hand- Ask yourself what is the most important thing you need to be doing right now, this moment. You first may need to get the the bazillion and one other things out of your head and on to paper (it will take some planning and ongoing writing).
What we get from our time depends on our perspective. And thinking about time differently can transform how you experience it.
How is your perspective of time working for you? If you want more fulfillment and less frustration it may be a clue.
Take a minute and leave a comment, I’d love to know how it’s going for you.
Why is it so hard to get stuff done sometimes, even easy stuff? There are a lot of reasons.
Some are good reasons and some are excuses disguised as good reasons. Sometimes, it’s because we are “Stuck”. Perhaps the most common reason is because it’s just as easy not to do something as it is to do it.
What most have an even harder time with is knowing how to change and get things done when they are not….even when they have a powerful “Why”.
Whether big tasks or small, there is an inertia we all have to overcome. If there seems to be an underlying principle working to keep us where we are at it’s because there is. And a secret to overcoming it is tapping the power of accountability.
By putting the following 3 accountability principles into action, you’ll be on the fast track to earning a GSD (getting stuff done) degree and getting more stuff done than you ever thought was possible:
- Small stuff– Success is merely a few key disciplines, repeated every day. And failure is only a few errors in judgement, repeated everyday. Therefore, you have to hold yourself accountable for the mundane, monotonous and incremental actions that matter big-time over the long-haul.
- Big Stuff- This “what” is obvious. The problem is that instead of “eating it small slices”, we try to choke the whole loaf down at once.
Accountability can be incorporated several ways:
- Say it
- One-to-One- Share your commitment with another person. It’s best if that someone is a person you respect, who cares about you, and won’t let you off the hook.
- Group or Team- When you make a commitment to a group, you leverage peer pressure in a positive way. You may also get the benefit of hearing other creative approaches you haven’t thought about.
- Write it
- Writing is a tangible reminder and activates our brain in a powerful way not done by thinking or talking alone. These words by Michael Hyatt summarize it well: “Thoughts disentangle themselves passing over the lips and through pencil tips”.
- A list in the form of action items or daily behaviors that can be “checked off” can be powerful.
- Incorporate structure
- Putting hard stops in place can give you a sense of urgency. Examples would setting a task timer of some sort or telling someone to leave without you if your not there by a certain time (Ouch!).
The Why of accountability
There are many. Below are the ones I think factor in most:
- We’re forced to clearly define what it is we are committing to, especially when we write it down.
- We’re more aware of what we are committing to, which allows us to better weigh the risks, consequences and rewards.
- It’s a form of “activation intent”. When we put accountability in place, we’ve actually taken a proactive step in moving toward what we are after.
- Our commitment is kept front and center because we now have someone or something external to our own rationalizing brain to answer to.
- It leverages positive peer pressure. No one wants to look bad or let someone down.
Whether it’s a BHAG goal or the small actions you want to transform into habits, sometimes your powerful “Why” isn’t going to be enough for you to get it done. Your going to have to leverage the other side of that “Why” coin: accountability. It’s just as important and sometimes more so.
Think of one thing you’ve wanted to get done and repeatedly haven’t. Now, what’s one way you could incorporate accountability into your efforts?
Give it a go, I have no doubt you’ll get a lot more done than you did without it. And if you do, please leave a comment and let me know how it goes (yes, feel free to write it down here and hold yourself accountable!).
The most effective form of internal motivation is making progress.” ~Greg McKeown