“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once an awhile, you could miss it.” -Ferris Bueller
We all have the same problems: deadlines that are getting shorter, email inboxes that are choking on high priority fires to be put out, and consciences that strain under guilt because we’re so busy tending to urgent things that the important stuff gets push to tomorrow.
Then the next day. Then the day after that until we’re staring down the barrel of a new year wondering what happened to all of those goals and plans…and dreams.
The single greatest contributor to the times I failed or was the least effective both personally and professionally: attempting to multi-task. And the close second: my unwillingness to say “no” when I knew I should have.
Both tendencies stem from the same problem, which is the inability to keep the main thing the main thing. When everything is important, nothing is and you end up living with no baseline for making good decisions. Life ends up happening to you. You miss it.
So I’m experimenting on a few things that I experimented with successfully during this year. Maybe there’s a nugget in here for you.
1. Say “no” twice as much as you say yes.
Everything is not equally important. Know what you want to accomplish and how to get there. When something peripheral comes up, you’ll see it for what it is: an obstacle.
Screw multi-tasking. It only thins you out and dilutes your focus and energy. When you’re on a phone call, be on the phone call. Don’t answer email or surf the web. If you’re in a meeting, be all there or don’t go at all.
3. Eliminate meetings.
The greatest obstacle to most innovation and progress is meetings, especially weekly “status updates”. If you must have a meeting, have an agenda and do a “standing meeting” where everyone must physically stand. Then be sure everyone leaves with actionable items. If that doesn’t happen, cancel the meeting forever.
4. Input and digest.
You can’t just be about output and producing. You’ll eventually burn up and out. Humans just aren’t wired for sustained output without rejuvenating. Our bodies need fuel, and so does our creativity.
5. Celebrate your wins.
Life moves pretty fast and we rarely take time to celebrate. You have to savor life. Like that old saying, “Drink your food and chew your wine.” I did that with my dinner last night and it made all the difference. Everything comes to life in a new way when you really pay attention to it and appreciate it.
Remember: only this moment is life. If you’re so busy doing, doing, doing, there’s not much energy left for simply being.