I do not like to be early. I don’t like it when people are early to come visit me, and thus I don’t want to sneak up on anyone either. I also think that it’s a waste of time (obviously this is a misnomer on my part). So I’m famous for doing “one more quick thing” before heading out and invariably it puts me behind. This then begins the domino affect into madness. Like recently, when I was running out of the house, behind schedule, to pick up the boys and my hands were full of karate uniforms, my wallet and my iPad (because I might want to multi task when I get there), when my phone rang and it seemed like a really good idea at the time to try and answer it with the one free finger I had left, when voila, I dropped the iPad and it shattered the screen. @#$%^ If I wasn’t late before, I surely was then and completely crazed to boot. I’m sure you can picture it!
Tell me I’m not alone here!
I have found, through some very painful experiences that the more that I try to squeeze in “one more thing” and rush to and fro, the further behind I get. When you are behind, you tend to drive faster…the faster you drive, the more red lights you tend to hit, and don’t even get me started on untimely road construction! The more you rush, the more you forget, and have to go back—maddening! You get the idea.
This happens in my work as well. For a large scale event, there are a bjillion and 10 things that need to be done in the day preceding an event and if I start to get amped up and think of all of the items at once and how I’m never going to get them all done in time, I’m not going to do a thing. I’ll be stuck in analysis paralysis and I don’t get paid to think about getting things done, but rather actually getting the job done!
So even though the tendency is to speed up when you are behind, I have found, that what I really need to do is to sloooooooooooooow down.
- Don’t look at a to-do list in its entirety. You will either panic, or you will start doing little things so that you can “feel” like you are accomplishing something. Neither are going to move you forward. I don’t use a to-do list at all, but rather a tickler file system that helps me organize one task at a time! Check out my method here.
- Resist the need to fit in one more thing. (this is my hardest lesson to follow) Leave five minutes plus earlier than when you think. If you insist on filling every moment with activity, do a three to five minute meditation when you arrive early. My favorite is Stop. Think. Breathe. You will start looking forward to getting somewhere early!
- Stop looking at the clock. I have a pad of sticky notes in my truck in case a brilliant idea strikes me. When I hop in and am running behind, I take one and cover up the clock so that I can’t see how late I am. At that point, it is what it is anyway, there is no need to dwell on it and “attract” all of the detours and red lights. It makes for a much more peaceful ride!
- Realize that not everything needs to get done…ever…at all. I recently saw a meme online that said, “I don’t want to get more done, I want to have less to do.” That has become my mantra of late. I would highly recommend the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Gregory McKeown. He lays out the mindset and methodology of really focusing only on what is absolutely essential in our lives. Think of your life like a closet…there is not enough room for your fat clothes, your skinny clothes, your winter clothes and your “I bought this and even though I hate it, I can’t bear to throw them out clothes”. It doesn’t work. Period.
- And lastly, set yourself up for success by making manageable goals. Each morning I come in and select 1 item from my tickler that is most important to complete today (1-3 hours), 3 that are smaller/less time consuming tasks (30-60 minutes each), and then 5 small tasks (10-15 each) and that’s it. Nothing more. Some days, they all get accomplished, other days things get deferred, but getting the most important thing done first is such a rush!
So as we are on the fast track into Summer, when accomplishing items from endless “bucket lists” and carting off to a million activities, we need to remember to sloooooooooooow down and actually enjoy the time. Soaking up every ounce of one meaningful activity, is going to outweigh skimming through multiple meaningless ones. You will be less stressed, and those around you will feel the chill as well.
So sloooooooooooow down and have a blast this Summer!