The notion of time management is a bit absurd, if you ask me. It requires that you look at every hour of the day and try to match the “right” things to fill those spaces. It’s this plug-and-play approach to our lives.
Most of the conditioning we receive is that we should keep our calendars full. That time is a wasting, and the days are slipping by like sands through the hourglass. That we should make sure we are doing as much as possible and to make sure to suck the marrow out of life.
Yet, all we are actually doing is sucking out our own capacity to thrive.
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” (Zig Ziglar)
We have created this mindless culture of busy and putting out fires with all the “urgent” things demanding our attention. When if we were really honest with ourselves, most of what fills our time as actually a lot of noise.
BUSY is the ultimate four-letter word
BUSY, which I refer to as: Buried Under Shoulding (all over) Yourself is truly the most potent and debilitating four-letter word in the English language. It strips our power away. And, it keeps us running on a perpetual hamster wheel, ultimately going nowhere … we just keep running and gunning.
We’ve got to start leading and living differently, as we have developed a culture of wind-and-grind, burn-and- churn, no-pain-no-gain, and being busy just for the sake of being busy. Wow, I am exhausted just reading that.
Busy and burnout have become the norm. Like some kind of initiation into a special society … one that truly is sucking our souls dry.
So, many times we get so caught up in the momentum of the day-to-day grind and being busy for the sake of being busy, that we forget to hit pause to check in and make sure all the work we are doing really is with purpose.
“It’s surprising how much free time and productivity you gain when you lose the busyness in your mind.” - Brittany Burgunder
And, I would offer … when we also lose the busyness for how we go about our day. We are creating more and more work and getting further and further away from living a life filled (and overflowing) with greater meaning, purpose, passion, intention, joy, love, and true fulfillment.
Important and urgent are NOT the same
The energy of what’s important versus the energy of what’s urgent could not be further apart from each other. Most of us live in an ongoing cycle of urgent, running around like a chicken with its head cut off or our hair on fire. We are in constant reactive mode.
Our nervous system is always activated, as we live in a constant cycle of flight, flight, or freeze (or, all three at once). Meaning our adrenals are operating from burnout, and our cortisol levels are through the roof.
We have a culture that is living in dis-ease, as a result.
We operate in a state of unease within our bodies. Our nervous systems are overloaded and crashing, and we continue to build up inflammation and illness as protective measures to right the ship of our own wellbeing.
“The essence of self-discipline is to do the important thing rather than the urgent thing.” (Barry Werner)
We don’t create space for what’s really important. We are living our lives surviving from one day to the next, reacting and numbing out. We keep putting what’s truly meaningful on a shelf.
We procrastinate our dreams. We table our mission. We stop breathing into life and constantly seek ways to “take the edge” off. We are comatose, and coexisting in codependent, addictive relationships. There is no space to play, to dream, or to use our imagination for all that’s possible.
We are shortchanging ourselves in the process. We were not put on this earth to hustle and grind, and to stay in a constant space of suffering. No, we were put on this earth to experience life … the fullness of it, the miracle of it, and the infinite potential of what we can create and manifest in it.
It’s from the overflow that we can serve the best of who we are.
We need to flip the script. When we focus on what matters most, what is important (starting with ourselves), all else will be taken care. We need to remove ourselves from the busy, and the urgent, and learn how to fill up our cups with what touches the depths our hearts and souls.
Focus Management vs. Time Management
Think about it … time management is a function of watching the clock (the seconds, the minutes, and the hours tick by). Whereas, focus management is a function of watching your impact.
“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.” - Charles Richards
We have our entire metric for success wrong. For, it’s not about how much you can accomplish in this world, it’s about how much you can impact.
When we focus our strengths and gifts on what we can create, affect, inspire, influence, change, and impact, we not only see the fruits of our labor, we also get massive returns on the time and energy we invest.
For starters, let’s consider reevaluating and redefining what success really means. It’s beyond a conversation about achievement and how much output we can dump into the world.
We are missing a fundamental part of the equation: our own fulfillment.
We have built a society that reveres achievement and output, making it nothing but a quantity game of more, more, more. We are missing the fundamental aspect of quality in that premise. When we focus on outcomes versus output, and fulfillment versus achievement, we move out of the zero-sum game and into a true win-win-win scenario.
A win-win-win means that not only do I feel a sense of fulfillment and success, so do you … as does everyone else who might be affected by the outcome, solution, or result created.
From this lens, we make better decisions … ones that are conscientious, responsible, and hold us accountable. We seek to find meaningful solutions and create real sustainable change.
We stop offering lip service in the guise of thought leadership.
Instead, we roll up our sleeves and come together in community and collaboration, effectively leveraging our unique gifts and lifting those around others. Thus, becoming transformational leaders in the process. We build bridges and seek to find opportunities to grow together.
We lean in, we listen, we learn, and we evolve.
Creating a calendar that works for you
It’s amazing how many clients I work with who tell me that their calendar (whether it be Google, Outlook, iCal, or something else) is running their lives. Think about that for just a moment … are you really handing your power over to your calendar? Is your calendar running your life?
Essentially, meaning: is it “owning” you and your time? Most people’s calendars are ineffective, to say the least.
They are a dumping ground for everyone else’s agenda and priorities, and truly … their bullshit. Most calendars are filled with nothing but urgent and busy “stuff,” often with little to no room for what’s truly important.
You end up filling your calendars with all your external commitments, often that stem from imposter syndrome, people-pleasing, or shoulding all over yourself … or, a combination of all there. You set yourself up for burnout, frustration, bitterness, and failure before you even start.
I would gather that at least 60% of your calendar is currently wasted energy. I know, as this is the case for every client I work with. We are focused on the 80% of busy and mindless crap that isn’t impactful versus the 20% that actually sets us apart.
When you allow your calendar to own you and run your life, you are handing your power over to happenstance. You delay, push off, and procrastinate your dreams and your purpose.
Imagine, if instead, you let your calendar work for you. Meaning, you deliberately constructed a calendar from a place of intention that allowed you to create real impact, one driven by inspired action.
“The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” - Stephen R. Covey
When you see your time, energy, attention, and gifts as investments, you change the way you show up. You are more conscientious about finding meaningful solutions to affect change and create real traction.
You prioritize what’s important and start leading your Living Legacy.
Your Living Legacy being the way you leave people in every interaction, in every moment. It’s the experience of your presence, your light, and your impact. You Living Legacy is how you share your gifts and purpose. That purpose, of course, being the full expression of YOU.
Changing the lens
You see, we only get this one life, and once we realize that we’re not here to live in a constant state of hustle, or grind, or busy for the sake of being busy, we start taking greater responsibility for how we show up and serve.
Essentially, how we choose to lead.
Our purpose in this life is to be of service. To show up and serve from the gifts we are here to share with the world.
The only way we can do that is to stop managing our time and watching the hours and minutes tick by. We need to be intentional about where we put our attention, energy, and focus. For, it’s only when we are purposeful in what we focus on that we can create meaningful change and impact.
“Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life.” - Alan Lakein
The opportunity lies in changing the lens: from one that moves us away from the notion of better and effective time management and moves us towards a space of more conscious, deliberate focus management instead.
This is how we give ourselves the freedom to truly live.