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Why Is It So Easy To Forget Your Priorities?

Posted by on Apr 11, 2011 | One Comment

This last month has been a hurricane of frantic activity.  My day-to-day life has devolved into a mess of tasks that have seemingly filled every second of every day.  My mental list of items to be completed grows longer despite my ever-quickening pace.  All at once, I’m trying to:

  • Research travel trailers for our RV adventure,
  • Research various types of insurance,
  • Plan the logistics of upcoming races, events, and clinics,
  • Finish my writing responsibilities,
  • Maintain BRU,
  • Write somewhat compelling content for my three blogs,
  • Lesson plan for the classroom,
  • Train for Western States,
  • Find a way to get volunteer hours for Western States,
  • Keep up on Facebook and email messages,
  • Interact with fellow runners on forums,
  • Take care of book wholesale orders,
  • blah, blah, blah…

Needless to say, my life has been frantic.  Yesterday, I had a reminder that I was letting all these tasks run my life.  My goal in restructuring my life was to be able to spend more time with Shelly and the kids, but all this external stuff was dominating my time.

Task one- do a self-analysis.  People that busy themselves with day-to-day crap tend to be avoiding something inside, whether they be unresolved feelings, conflicts, or difficult decisions.  Do any of these apply?  I don’t think so… my motivation to busy myself is a fear of future difficulties.  Since we can’t predict the future, I shouldn’t be getting so worried.  I’m creating problems that do not exist and may never exist.

Okay, now that I figured out WHY I am busying myself, how do I fix it?

It’s time to reset.  It’s time to step back, evaluate what REALLY has to get done, then eliminate the rest.  It’s time to do a Pareto’s Law analysis on my day-to-day life.

How will I go about doing this?

First, I will pick ONE thing to accomplish each day.  This ONE thing will be the thing that provides the greatest impact. If possible, this one thing will be done first thing each morning (I wake up around 3am every day.)

Second, I will delegate any task I can. For example, instead of doing my own insurance research, I can rely on an agent.  The immediate time savings will be well worth the nominal cost. Another example- I can delegate the planning of various events.  There’s no need for me to be involved in every detail when others are more proficient planners.

Third, I will say “no” by default. This next month is excessively busy because of prior commitments.  I will not take on new responsibilities or engagements unless they directly benefit our family’s goals AND they are not time-intensive.

Fourth, I will eliminate time-killers. For me, the biggest time-killer is attempting to respond to each and every message I get through Facebook, email, or forums.  Keeping up with this eats about two hours each day, which is two hours I’m not spending with my family.  This means I will have to strictly prioritize incoming messages and only answer those that directly affect my family’s plans.  I will also go back to a low-information diet by skipping things like watching the news, browsing the ‘web, etc.

I have waited too long to perform this analysis, and it shows.  The last time I did this, the effects were immediate and dramatic.  It’s all too easy to fall into a trap of work for the sake of work.  We busy ourselves with menial tasks of inflated importance.  This seems to be the default setting for many of us.  The trick, at least for me, is to remain vigilant.  When I let my guard down, I start filling my fun and leisure time with work.  Who wants that?

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1 Comment

  1. Art
    April 11, 2011

    That’s all fine and good, but don’t go turning into a productivity blogger on us: http://xkcd.com/874/