It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?
Henry David Thoreau
We often plead for sympathy feeling that others just don’t understand how overwhelmed, obligated and busy we are. That may be true and you may have more obligations and less choices than others. However the question still needs to be asked “Am I using and valuing my time properly?” As busy as we may be, we still have flexibility in the sequencing of what we choose to do. Our productivity is increased or decreased by how we organize our day. Ask yourself if the way your day unfolds is by unconscious, mindless default or is it consciously managed:
- Do you do what you enjoy before you do what is necessary? Do you prioritize play before work? If I schedule play before work (I will read my mystery novel now and plan to mow the yard later, I will probably procrastinate by continuing to read and put off mowing the yard until the next day). Procrastination never feels good, it depletes energy, whereas accomplishment of a task is energizing.
- Do you do what is easy, before you tackle what’s hard?
- Do you prioritize on a first come, first served basis or do you prioritize by the importance of the task?
- Do you do what is familiar before tackling something new?
- Do you do what is requested by others, before what you have chosen or selected?
My high energy, most creative period is in the morning. I use this time do what’s most important – workout and write with no interruptions. My low energy state is early afternoon. this is when I do rote tasks that require less energy and creativity: answering mail, returning phones calls and running errands. For me when energy is low, my creativity, originality and innovation are off the radar screen. It’s time to put on the cruise control and do the routine things that are necessary but don’t require me to be at top of my creative game.
Greater awareness of how you spend your time allows you to customize and tailor your schedule and priorities to be most effective in meeting your needs. The most productive time on a project is usually the last phase before a deadline. Deadlines trigger productivity; therefore reducing the amount of time for a project may increase productivity.
Who you are is a function of how you are using your time. Who you are is your identity. The almost desperate need to always project a certain image results in wasted time and energy. Many males are locked into a can-solve-any-problem identity and fail to realize that unsolicited advice is usually neither appreciated nor heeded (my wife has told me many times – I just want to be heard not fixed). Carl Jung often said that people rarely integrate anything told to them by others and that includes even those that pay dearly for advice. “It is the things given them by their own unconscious that make a lasting impression.” You may sometimes act as a catalyst but people have to take responsibility for their lives and figure it out for themselves. People already know what their shortcomings are. Circumstances and people will be forever reminding them. A lot of critical feedback is inaccurate ; it can be more of a reflection of the person dispensing the advice rather than being properly fitted to the needs of the person receiving it. People really need to hear about their strengths.