Rethinking productivity: How to balance the list with life

Hourglass time clock with sandEverything we have or do depends on one or more of these three resources:

Time – Money – Energy

It is easy to miscalculate their priority because we don’t understand an essential fact. Only one of these resources is actually limited. The other two can and are continuously replenished and are really available to us in far greater quantities than we can even imagine in many cases. But one resource is universally finite: Time.

In my own personal journey, coming to terms with time being the most precious resource I will ever have caused me to re-evaluate and re-organize how I approach just about everything in my life. The investment of time is far more critical than anything else. That understanding also created a marked change in my personal productivity. It begin to feel like time wasn’t really finite because I was getting so much more accomplished! Where did all of that time come from?

As I look back, it comes down to five essential keys that have unlocked true productivity for me. They aren’t the usual suspects.  It’s not about “touching things once” or having a killer app on your phone or calendar reminder for “what’s next”.  Those are important but they aren’t the essentials.  What I have learned and embraced is the importance of partnering with time as an ally. Seeing time as our most valuable resource and loving it for what it allows us to do creates a powerful partnership with it.  Perhaps these keys will open some life locks for you as well.   (I’m writing it in first person, counting down in importance. Try reading this out loud as if you are saying it for YOU!)

#5 – I don’t have to do everything.  This point isn’t about delegation.  This is about choice.  I do not have to do everything.  Long to do lists do not make my day matter more.  They only clutter the day with things that diminish other things and the time I can give them. It is far more satisfying to have 5 things finished than to have 10 things started.

#4 – I am serving others more effectively sometimes by NOT helping them.  (This was my hardest one to learn..) Allowing others to DO for themselves or even to be served by OTHERS is quite often a better choice.  Being a facilitator can be just as satisfying as anything else.

#3 – Things sometimes take longer than I planned.  And that’s okay.  It’s important to be prepared to miss cutoffs or deadlines and to have a backup plan.  Delays are not failures.  They are just delays.  Accept them for what they are:  a change in the schedule, not a change in the plan.

#2 – New information needs to be factored into existing plans.  New knowledge can show up in many forms.  My ability to remain fluid to change and to be able to discern when it is creating a “new” decision point is an important skill with managing my investment of time.

#1 – Being clear about what I want to accomplish is ultimately the most important factor in true productivity. Being clear means more than a general feeling or desire to “be” something or someone.  It means being really clear.  Less impressionistic – more photographic. Sharpen every pixel in the image.  This is what makes all of the decisions along the way productive in their outcome even as I am being productive in my partnering with time.

Five essential keys that have unlocked time as a partner in my life.  Perhaps they will for you, too.  Which of these would make the most productive difference for you? Start there.

 

 

 

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