I’d been feeling swamped and adrift with too much to do and not a clear sense of accomplishment. I know I’m not alone. I know too many leaders who feel they are the ball in the pinball machine. What to do?
I couldn’t tackle big questions, or even little ones until I created space —to think, feel, and remember my larger purpose. Yet everything seemed essential. I was inefficient and lacked focus because I had overloaded my circuits. Like me, we can choose ineffective release instead of truly replenishing ourselves. Another beer, TV show, computer game or blog post that says the same as the last or take a walk, pursue a hobby, or visit with friends. Before I could make life affirming choices I needed space to even SEE them.
For once I was not ambitious. I decided to make small changes I could sustain.
- Turn off the TV.
The silence was deafening at first but I have space for more reading and hobbies without the psychic jangle produced by the manufactured hype on TV.
- Clear my desk at the end of the work day
My daily clean-up and reflection lets me claim and plan for victories more regularly. The insights are often mundane and meaningful. Like making sure my calendar and work plan account for ALL of my tasks including, for example, meals, reading, a more accurate estimate of time per task, or notice what my priorities actually are by seeing what I do.
- No e-device before a set point in the morning and after another at night.
There’s ample literature (and personal experience!) on the addictiveness of our devices. With this maneuver, I take back control. I have it. It doesn’t have me.
These are the small changes I’ve made. They work for me. What might work for you?
- A break to walk outside
- A pause before entering your home to set aside the pressures of the day so you can be present for your loved ones
- A lunch or break in silence
- An exercise or hobby class
- No meetings after X:00 or before Y:00
- A space in the calendar between meetings—to put away files, schedule follow-up, and gather yourself for the next meeting. Maybe even go to the bathroom!
- Take the scenic route to work
- Schedule fun as you do appointments
Caveat: Too many small changes add up to overwhelm. Pick 1-3 things that you can do easily. Resist the temptation to add a next new habit until the first are well grooved.
Here are some of the big changes I’ve seen so far:
- I’m calmer
- I make clear choices about how I use my time
- My work gets done
- I prioritize more effectively
- I’m not as deluded that I can multi-task. (We don’t multi-task, we just change focus.) Instead, I give full focus, complete a task, then turn to the next with similar attention.
- I have more energy
- I sleep better
- My days feel longer
See what a big difference a small change can make for you.