Over the last few months, I’ve been working hard on clarifying what I want to do with my time, rather than being a slave to my schedule. Through this, I’ve realized the following:
To feel fulfilled at work or home, you need to…
1) Spend MOST of your time doing what you love.
2) Develop a mission or purpose in life that includes bringing more VALUE into the lives of those around you.
I was not doing so well on the first item (doing what you love) because I believed the stuff “I had to get done” was taking up ALL my time. Life seems busier than ever and it can feel like you’re drowning in a never-ending pile of stuff that needs completing.
Yet, there is also an unconscious habit that many success-driven people experience and that is to take on MORE activities than you should in hopes that something will eventually make you so much money that you don’t have to do anything else, except what brings you joy. Turns out, THIS IS A TRAP!
First, if you are spread too thin, you won’t be able to excel in one area that you can become known for. If you are a jack of all trades and a master of none, it will also hurt your brand because people won’t have a clear understanding of what you do, or how you can help them.
Second, working on several projects at once won’t give you more free time. Instead, it eats it all up. Every project you take on creates an entire list of sub-projects that you were not anticipating, which means you won’t end up with MORE free time. You’ll end up with even less!
Third, you only have so much bandwidth. I just turned 47 and I’ve noticed that I don’t have the energy to pull 80-hour work weeks like I used to. Plus, my laptop and smartphone were hurting my marriage because my family started feeling like my work was more important than they were. Thus, I put boundaries on my work so when I come home, the computer and phone go into my home office and stay there until the next morning. This has greatly improved my marriage, yet it also means I now have even less time to get things accomplished.
Sometimes life moves SO FAST, it can feel incredibly difficult to slow down enough to actually plan out a desirable outcome. This is a common theme for companies I work with and it happens in my own company as well.
If it’s happening in yours, try these 4 steps…
1. Take an hour (or a 1/2 day) and write down everything you spend your time on.
2. Then write down what you want to spend your time on. (What do you love doing the most? What would bring about the largest economic growth for your business?)
3. Look at where you can start “clearing your plate.” What two activities are most important to you? These activities should bring you the greatest chance of success, while also cultivating the greatest amount of joy. If they are in conflict, go with what brings you joy.
4. Start prioritizing your day and make sure every task is related to the “two chosen activities” you’ve selected. It’s OK to say NO, to turn down money-making opportunities, and to protect your schedule in order to stay laser-focused only on your two main objectives.