Did you ever read the Steven Covey book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People? In the mid-90s, I did. I was focused on getting into grad school and was all about being effective and efficient. I’ll be honest, twenty years later, I don’t remember a lot but I do remember this time square. It was divided into four smaller squares. The idea was to look at what was important vs. urgent. Urgent means it needs to be done now. Important is what matters to long-term success, whether in business or personal. If things are always urgent than the important things usually don’t get done or don’t get done well.
My apologies to Mr. Covey for the bastardizing of his work but I think you get the picture.
Well, for too long my life has been lived in the Urgent box. I feel like there are so many things on fire that I spend my day putting out flames rather than moving forward in any meaningful way. Each morning I make a list and it is stupidly long. There is no way I accomplish even half, much less complete the list. It doesn’t do a lot for the psyche. I never feel finished or successful. I know I am missing things but I can’t see them for all the smoke.
Everything I do feels at the expense of something else. If I work on my outreach, it is at the expense of writing. If I work at writing, it is at the expense of family time. If I spend time with family, mailboxes and notification lists build up to “Babel”-like heights. It is dizzying and overwhelming. I live in terror of a call or email regarding something I have forgotten.
I am traveling the country and wanting to soak up every moment and yet even at the base of an 1800 year old tree, a nagging voice tells me that there is more to be done.
Am I the only one? Do you ever feel finished and relaxed? Or are you like me, living in a state of mental wildfire management?
Are you living in a state of mental wildfire management?
I want to live fully in my life. I want to find a place of peace where I can feel good at the end of the day knowing that I have done my jobs well, as writer, wife, and mother. But where is the balance? If I don’t maintain my blog, I lose a stream of income and opportunity for my family. But if I don’t embrace these precious moments, they are gone forever. I have cheated sleep for months now and the well is drying up quickly. I need time to clear land before fires pop up again. (Okay, maybe I have taken the wildfire metaphor a little too far. Blame it on my time in Northern California. Wildfires are on the brain up here.)
I honestly don’t have the answer.
I just know that I would like a To-Do list rather than a Too-Much-To-Do list. When I lay my head down at night, I want to feel like I did some good in the world — made my mark and served my loved ones.I want to do what is important not just what is urgent.
What’s your to-do list look like? How do you balance your time? Do you feel accomplished at the end of the day?
Thanks to Clipart Panda for the fire clipart.