Slow Down Challenge – Day 3

A few days ago, I committed to participating in Jeff Goins’ “Slow Down Challenge” and sharing my experience with you. Yesterday I shared Day 1 with you. Today, I’m going to share day 3.

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Day 3? Wait! What happened to day 2? Well, you’ll have to come back tomorrow to find out about day two. Day two fits much better tomorrow.

The challenge for day 3 was focus. Jeff set it up like this,

What if today you stopped trying to fit more things into smaller blocks of time?

How much better would your work be if you do fewer things? How much more present could you be to each task, and how much happier would that make you?

Ummm on a scale of 1 to 10? About an 11.

If you read my post yesterday, you know how busy work has been for me. It’s been pretty crazy and to be honest, frustrating. I like what I do, but when all I do is chase a to-do list, it’s not very enjoyable. There’s just no room to breathe.

I think that’s the key. We have to make room to breathe. We cram so much into our to-do list that there is never room to breathe – at least I’m guilty of that.

I’ve already got full to-do lists for the next 3 days and lists started the two following that. If my to-do list is already full for tomorrow, what am I going to do when something else comes up – and I know with absolute certainty that something will come up.

When that something comes up, it’ll get on the list. I’ll buckle down even harder, press even more, add some stress, work a little later, etc…

I may even try to multitask to get more done. But if we are honest, there is no such thing as multitasking. We may be doing more than one thing at a time, but we aren’t doing them both to our full potential.

In order to multitask, we have to reduce our engagement in one task to make room for the next task. The better way to work is one task at a time. The better way to work is to focus on the task at hand and then move to the next task.

Back to my to-do list (sorry for the little sidebar about multitasking). My to-do list is too full. The biggest problem with my to-do list is that everything gets on my to-do list.

I’m a huge proponent of writing things down – getting them out of my head. But sometimes, many times, my to-do list includes things that aren’t that important.

Steven Covey says that the things we do fall into 4 quadrants:

  1. Important and Urgent – Things like completing a project for a client
  2. Important and not urgent – Things like setting up a date night with Taryn, defining goals, etc.
  3. Urgent and not important – Things like someone coming into your office to chat, some phone calls, emails, etc…
  4. Not important and not urgent – Things like checking Facebook, Twitter, etc…

Obviously quadrant 1 is the one we should focus on. But we also need to spend time in quadrants 2 and 3 so that everything in those quadrants doesn’t jump into quadrant 1. And I don’t think we need to discuss quadrant 4.

One of my biggest problems with my to-do list is there is no distinction between what’s important and urgent vs. what’s not. Everything just gets thrown on the list. Sure, I have a pretty good sense of what needs to be worked on next, but the problem is I’m never done. There is never any space.

However, if I separate the list and focus on quadrant 1. I can create space. I can complete tasks and breathe. I can empty quadrant 1 and instead of thinking that I have to take care of everything else today, I can decide what items from quadrants 2 and 3 I should work on next.

I commit to breaking down my to-do list. I commit to focusing on quadrant 1. I commit to creating some space throughout my day so that I can be present and fully engaged in everything I do. I commit to not letting life just fly by. I commit to not rushing through life on my way to the next big accomplishment.

Want to join me?

Question: What do you need to do to create more space in your life?  What do you need to do to be able to focus more?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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