There is a new four letter word in the corporate world. I hear it with virtually every client I meet with. The word?
Given that the tools designed to help us with our busy-ness have exploded into a huge industry, you would think we would be saying “I’m so productive.” “I’m getting more done than ever.” “I can’t believe how easy the cloud has made my life.” “My scheduling software makes my life a breeze.”
Our tools are running us. Emails ding. Texts ping. Phones ring.
And we answer. Actually, we jump.
“Need that report? Let me get it for you yesterday.” “Want those numbers? Sure, I’ll drop everything to get them to you.” “Where’s that file? No worries, I will drop this very useful work I’m doing right now to help you find it.” “Want me at the meeting? Of course I’ll be there.” Not every time. But enough to be harmful.
At first glance, it sounds like the ideal employee. Fast, responsive, caring, engaged.
This ideal employee is also just as likely to be over-committed, frantic, insecure and burned out.
The hacks designed to help us with busy aren’t working. No number of better calendars, to do lists, note taking apps, or other new and better tools are helping me or my clients with dealing with being too busy. Busy is more a reflection of our inner world than it is an indicator of our outer world.
Busy is how we handle more than we can handle.
We let our days run us, instead of us running our days.
Pretty soon that means our life is running us and we are not getting what we want out of life, nor are we doing what we are here to do. Because we are doing what everybody else want us to do. This may sound crazy – but we have become slaves to the external demands on our time and it’s sucking us dry.
Earlier this year, I realized that my day was starting with the question: “what’s happening in the world?” I turned on the news and for 30 minutes, would go through my stretching and yoga, while at the same time allowing my head to be filled with whatever the news director of the channel wanted to tell me that day. Trust me when I tell you that no news director had my best interest at heart in planning the days news. What they care about is ratings and whatever agenda their particular brand carries to get those ratings.
By the time I finished breakfast and went to do my meditation, much of my day’s mood had already been set. I wasn’t really even aware of what was happening; then one day, I heard a business man I respect mention the importance of controlling “inputs” in context of establishing a strong daily architecture.
Now, I’ve prided myself on very clearly structuring my mornings so that my day has the best start possible. As I mentioned, I do yoga, eat a great breakfast, meditate and plan. My first reaction to the idea of a structured daily architecture was self-congratulatory. “I’m good.” I thought. However, when I really looked at it, there was a hole big enough to drive a truck through.
I was letting the news media speak more loudly to me than the wisdom I might have captured through starting my day in reflection.
So I tried an experiment. In early July, I started meditating FIRST. Just this one shift in my daily architecture made a humongous difference in my approach to the rest of my day. And it got results. In every venue where performance mattered (like skiing, teaching, coaching) I could tell a difference. My skiing improved enough for a long-time coach to refer to “new Lynn” vs “old Lynn” when talking about how I might try something new.
As we come to the end of 2017 and start considering how to approach 2018, I suggest reviewing your daily architecture (i.e. The habits and routines that frame your day). Where could it be better? What are you choosing to do that is taking away from your ability to run your life?
Where are you allowing external factors to determine your inner state of well-being?
These questions barely scratch the surface. If we are to really solve the busy problem, our questions have to go deeper. What do we do about our true reasons for always being available? What is speaking in our inner world that makes us do things we would rather not do? What has made “no” a dirty word? What’s so bad about failure?
Stay tuned – we will address these questions and more in the next blog.
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