Progress and accomplishment increase motivation and energy. Distractions, on the other hand, suck the wind out our sails and leave us feeling drained. Yet, if we can remove our distractions and overcome them, we’ll gain great satisfaction in our work. We’ll feel as if we achieved something…because we did.
Procrastination can get the best of us, at home and at work. The last thing I want to do after an amazing breakfast is wash the dishes. At work, I find myself procrastinating when I get behind. It becomes worse when I’m tired, lack focus, or feel overwhelmed. The funny thing is, more often than not, once I get started on a task at hand, I get on a roll. It recently dawned on me that I could be more deliberate in tackling the procrastination problem.
I sat down at my desk this morning, like many other days. Next I opened up my email, just to make sure there wasn’t anything urgent. A colleague popped into my office with an issue. After nearly an hour of triage, I finally started getting to the priorities on my to-do list. I sipped my coffee and stared at the clock for a moment. Then, the light bulb came on in my head. I’ve slipped back into old habits.
Maybe your days start like mine did. Or, maybe you’re better trained in the art of productivity practices espoused by the likes of David Allen, Stephen Covey or the latest from Lifehacker.com. Sometimes, we unintentionally let things slip and don’t even realize it. For example, have you been working out as regularly as you’ve intended? Frightening isn’t it.
“The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work,” said famed football coach Vince Lombardi. “Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price.” I talk with a lot of people who want to achieve more, be better leaders and perform at a higher level. However, wanting to be better and more successful doesn’t make it happen. The question we must answer is, are we willing to pay the price?
In their 2011 annual Stress in America Survey, the American Psychological Association (APA) reported that American’s main obstacle to their ability to make healthy lifestyle choices and positive change in their lives is a lack of willpower. Often linked with self-control or discipline, the APA defines willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” In our culture of microwaves, fast food and next day shipping, it’s no surprise that many see willpower as a challenge. With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention classifying 1/3 of U.S. adults as obese, I think it is clear that we’re suffering from a willpower epidemic.
Fall is setting in here in Middle Tennessee, and leaves have started changing. This is one of my favorite times of year to hike. My wife and I were out for a hike not long ago, and along the trail we spotted a pair of squirrels chasing each other from tree to tree. They’d run up and around one tree like a corkscrew, spiral back down and leap to another. Watching them play together was a joy. It reminded me how easy it can be to forget to play.
In the past, I’ve struggled to follow through on smaller goals, especially over time. I didn’t really learn to play the guitar. I’m not fluent in Spanish. For the big goals, I’m more likely to put in the time to develop a thorough plan, map it out and also to reach my goal. But, for me, it’s the little ones that slip away. Maybe you have struggled to achieve some smaller goals too.
In the hustle and bustle of our busyness, we sometimes struggle to make time for the important things in life. For me, some of those important things include personal and professional development, quiet time and staying in touch with people. What are the things you wish you had more time for?
As I combed my calendar and daily schedule for some gaps, I came across a great discovery. Monday through Friday, I have a fairly consistent block of time with no appointments or requirements. My daily commute is ripe for the picking.
If you are at all like me, then you’re looking for ways to get ahead and make the most of every minute. My commute presented a great opportunity. Perhaps you could get more out of your commute too. Allow me to share with my discovery with you.
Frankl relays to us that we have the ability to choose our thoughts, our emotions and our actions.
One of my favorite questions to ask people when I speak about multitasking is this: “Have you ever come home exhausted at the end of the day, with no idea what you actually accomplished?” The typical response is a resounding “yes.” Perhaps you’ve had that experience too. Often, this occurs because we weren’t focused enough and spent the day interrupting one task for the next every time a new issue came to us. The side-effects that seem to accompany these days are drained energy, lower satisfaction, and increased stress.