So I’ve been trying to be much more intentional about how I spend my time. By that I mean I am trying hard to accomplish some of the more important things I have on my to- do list. Things like begin that book I have in my head or redesign my website pages or explore some networking opportunities or take time for myself to relax.
Notice how I used weak phrase “try to”? When I just “try to” I often find many other things to fill my time. I am not very intentional if I just “try to”. As Yoda reminds me “there is no try.”
I think I am convincing myself that by “trying to” move toward my goals I am actually doing so but have to do all these other things first. When in truth it is just a stall tactic that tricks my mind into believing something that isn’t actually true.
All the good intentions in the world do not move me toward my goals if I choose to busy myself with other tasks that have nothing whatsoever to do with my intentions. Do you know what I mean? Suddenly, running an errand is more important than sitting at my computer and working on the website. Or, the rug really needs to be vacuumed before I write that first chapter. Or, maybe I should just check my Facebook page and email in case something has come in that I need to know about right now!!!
Then I read an article the other day that said busyness just pacifies the mind without accomplishing anything important. In fact, it went on to say keeping busy is a way to avoid doing important things. It is also a way not to think about important things – things that really need a good pondering.
And as I thought about those statements I also realized that I really get caught in a double bind here because all too often I see everything that needs to be done as important. In that case, how can I possibly prioritize my to-do list?
Since that day when I had my aha moment around busy vs. important I have begun looking at my to-do list in a new light and putting it through my new four question test.
- 1. What on my list has to be accomplished by the end of the day? Once determined I break it down even further into how it can be combined with other things or if others could actually do this for me. Is it a first thing first sort of thing or can it wait until the more important things have been attended to?
- 2. What things on my to do list have a deadline? I like to work ahead so if I find myself working on something that isn’t due for a month instead of working on my writing or networking, then I have to stop and give myself a talking to.
- 3. What things on my to do list are important vs. urgent? Steven Covey wrote about the tyranny of the urgent and how we can mistake urgent for important. How urgent is it that I vacuum my rug? How important is it for me to work on my business website? Could be a big difference in outcome in the long-term as regards my vision for my life.
- 4. What things do I really want to avoid? This is a biggie because many of the things that are important scare me. They fall into the category of dreams and visions that often time exceed my current confidence level. Sitting down to begin to write a book brings out my inner critic (and former English teachers) who try to tell me that I don’t have what it takes to write a book. Or, getting out there and really marketing myself opens me up to rejection and failure. Or, taking some time to relax and rest fills me with such guilt when I have so many responsibilities…so why not go clean the toilet instead or run to the store to grab something for supper even though it is only 9 am? Avoiding makes me less frightened and allows me to feel more in control.
Going over this list forces me to be honest and real about what I am committed to and what I am not. Some days it works just fine and I move from “trying to” – to doing. Other days, I have to be admit that I am not up to the task and need to step away and get caught up in the urgent and the trying in order to stay in my comfort zone.
The only difference is now I know why I am making the choice I am making, no excuses, no defensiveness, no pretending. Avoidance 101 is an intentional choice now and is not just a default way of living. And Accomplishment 101 is not only a choice but an exciting way to spend my time because I have faced my fears and allowed my passion to drive my dreams.
How about you? Is it Avoidance 101 or Accomplishment 101?