Mental bandwidth – an excuse for procrastination?
Last week I read one of the amazing Seth Godin’s blogs – Do you have three minutes? It’s so true that everyone has three minutes, but we are so busy that we are very good at finding low grade tasks to do that just have to be done, instead of the one thing that is really important.
This is also linked to good ol’ Steven Covey’s matrix that identifies that most of us are working on urgent stuff, instead of the important stuff. If we’re always fire-fighting we are not operating in our flame where work is a pleasure and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel burning brightly that will warm us with satisfaction and contentment at a job well done. Instead we’re working our way through the eternal to do list full of bits and pieces.
I’m a Mechanic profile (systems freak) so I like lists and being able to tick off progress, but sometimes that list gets so big it is overwhelming and my brain fries. I don’t know where to start – and as fast as I tick something off two things take its place. My brain then runs away and demands some time out doing something that isn’t actually productive at all – looking at my Facebook feed, playing computer games, reading a book – then, of course, I beat myself up for goofing off!
A clever guru-friend, Peter Thomson, has a very smart way around this. Have all your lists with their priorities BUT put them away where they’re not overwhelming you and, for each day, have a little bit of paper with just THREE things to do on it. Most of us can handle three things. I like the idea of putting each of these three things on a PostIt© note so I can pull it off the wall and throw it away when I’m done.
Another techie friend has recently introduced me to Workflowy.com – a great list management tool and it definitely ensures I don’t forget things as everything is one place, but I still need something visible and manageable to keep me focused on top priority stuff. Of course, I’m not perfect and I still have plenty of days when I do this and that and find some of my low grade stuff got crossed off my list (because it was easy) – but those things that make a real difference are still on the list – not done.
I agree with Seth Godin that sometimes the only way to get stuff done is to put yourself in a situation where there are no diversions, interruptions or distractions. However, this can mean leaving behind your technology – no smartphone feeding your email, text messages or access to all your social media and no internet connection on your laptop (no, no tablet either – you can’t write on a tablet). In today’s constantly connected world one wonders if that is even possible.
So here is your challenge
If you are really prepared to take action – answer these questions honestly:
What is the one thing that requires some serious input from you and will make a big difference to your business?
What will you have to do in order to get that time?
When will you disconnect yourself from the internet and take action?
How will you feel when you’ve done that?
… Let me know how you get on.