When it comes to being successful, it’s often a question of having set goals to work towards.
Then, time management and continued self-motivation are two key elements to pin down. Both can become elusive and confused, causing us to spin out of control in a vortex of mindless doing.
It can be all too easy to fall into the trap of filling up the day with a long to-do list and work oneself to the bone while trying to juggle multiple tasks. After the buzzword of “multi-tasking” that seemed to come through from the developments in the 80’s along with the power-shoulder fashions, which has long been evidenced to be a fallacy, an illusion, specially in the long run, becoming focused and mindful is the current and definitely more effective solution.
When you find yourself always under pressure to make deadlines, the quality of your work suffers, productivity falls drastically and your well-being are at serious risk leading to burnout, exhaustion and nervous breakdowns.
It is quite east to end up making endless To-Do lists, but the real question isn’t how much you can cram into the day, but what can you get out of your day as Jim Rohn used to say.
The better and more effective option is re-evaluating how you want to spend your time. We all have 1,440 minutes per day. With deadlines breathing down our necks, we crave days with more hours, but that would only make us more stressed, if we were to carry out as we are, while finding the time lacking.
Successful people work smarter and get more out of their days, leaving the To-Do’s to their teams. It’s also worthwhile to define what success means to you personally.
Have good hard look at your Goals and Life Vision and Purpose. Observe your core-values and what gives you fulfilment, satisfaction and happiness. Do you really want to spend your precious time ticking off never-ending busywork tasks on endless, meaningless to-do lists while your life passes you by?
One tool that I have personally found extremely useful in pinning down my priorities time and again is The Eisenhower Matrix, also referred to as Urgent-Important Matrix. It helps you decide on and prioritise tasks by urgency and importance, sorting out less urgent and important tasks which you should either delegate or not do at all.
It divides tasks into Important and Urgent and further sorts them into Important but not urgent and urgent but not important.
The Difference Between Urgent and Important.
- Urgent means that a task requires immediate attention.
- Important tasks are things that contribute to our long-term mission, values, and goals.
Sometimes important tasks are also urgent, but typically they’re not.
Here is another way of looking at it:
What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.
Most things which are urgent are not important, and most things which are important are not urgent.
Sometimes it helps to make a to-do list and then further refine it into a not to-do list, which are things you can either completely strike off or delegate. The idea is to simplify and streamline, so you can do less and get more out of life. Analyze which of your daily tasks are ones that you perform out of sheer habit rather than as a way to chart meaningful progress towards your Life vision and goals.
Periodical review and re-evaluation of one’s progress and priorities is always a great idea. It may seem that we are wasting time doing this when we could be “working” on important tasks but the fact is that time spent planning is crucial.
Those who fail to plan are setting themselves a plan to fail.
For most of our time, we should be pursuing activities that are meaningful and taking us closer to our desired outcomes and goals instead of filling up our days.
Revisit your initial why, your motivation for doing what you do. We change as we grow and it is possible that we may even change tactics or steer in a different direction, even if we have our sights set on the original destination.
The following questions could help you reflect:
- Are you where you had originally planned to be?
- Are you okay with where you are right now?
- Would you be okay if you decided to quit on something that no longer fuels you?
- What could you tweak or change completely?
- What is not working for you?
- What else could you do if you weren’t working on your passion that seems to have gone sideways?
Have you ever started something in full faith, slowly lost the initial excitement and felt guilty about wanting to end what seemed like a great idea?
Is the guilt compounded by the fact that you spent a lot of time researching and learning about it?
“Do not continue waste any more time on a mistake once you realise it, only because you spent a lot of time making it.”
Your situation, your mindset, your time schedules, your availability can all change. What made you excited about a fabulous new idea may no longer be true. It may be more difficult than you originally thought and you may not want to take on the more complicated parts you knew nothing about in the beginning.
If that’s the case, don’t feel guilty about cutting your losses and moving on.
Whatever you do, it should be something that brings you joy and satisfaction, falls in line with your natural talents and abilities, adds another positive spin to your life. It should be enjoyable, not burdensome.
Life is too short for anything else.