More and more work is consuming our minds with problems to solve and worries that distract our personal lives. We are captive to our technology when we check it all the time – and our addiction to consumption masks the longing we have for real connection. Our thinking mind and mental process are assaulted constantly by way too much stuff.
What’s the vaccine? I have simple steps that some of our best-coached leaders implement daily, to free themselves from the distractions at work. Their spouses and kids often send us thank you notes when these habits become true:
1. PICK A ROUTINE CUT-OFF TIME AND STICK TO IT!
Demand will always rise to meet supply. This is a law of economics called “Parkinson’s Law.” It explains why expenses tend to rise to the level of your income by nature. The same goes for time. If you don’t have a determined supply, where time is containerized, then you’re a slave to linear open-ended time with an endless to-do list. HEAR ME LOUD AND CLEAR: “YOU WILL NEVER GET IT ALL DONE.” Ok pace back and forth 20 times and chant this over and over. “I WILL NOT FINISH IT ALL!” Would you rather have a life and a few complainers who you delay getting back to, or a clear inbox and a bankrupt person life? What is your bottom line? Money or Happiness? You get my drift…you don’t live to work, you work to live, remember? Time isn’t money, money buys time! Other people don’t dictate your priorities, YOU DO! You are the predominant creative force in your life. SO…PICK A TIME TO CUT OFF WORK, AND DON’T DEVIATE! Tell your family about this choice, so you’re all in it together, and they alert you when you’re running a red light!
2. STOP RUMINATING AND WORRYING.
Most of the things you occupy your mind on are not going to change anything, you’re just ruminating and worrying, thinking of negative consequences that you fear. I get it, you care alot about you and your family and you don’t want anyone harmed! Your fear originates from what you care to preserve and protect, that’s part of being human, BUT…ruminating and having a real problem are two different gears in your mind. IF SOMETHING IS A DROP-DEAD EMERGENCY, SOLVE IT, BUT DON’T PERCEIVE SOMETHING URGENT THAT ISN’T. Worrying isn’t going to resolve anything. Getting a good nights sleep will renew your mind to be ready for anything tomorrow when the heat is on, and you will need the fuel!
3. GIVE YOURSELF A LIMINAL ACTIVITY.
Liminality means “limbo” or space in between. A liminal activity is a change-over, a shift-point, a threshold that severs you from one thing and transports you to the next thing. Get into a liminal activity like showering, changing clothes, immersing in your hobby, jumping in the pool, working out, meditating, cooking something yummy. The key here is to 180 degree turn your environment into something that puts you back into second gear. I like to take a long walk in the sunset, or play with my kids throwing a ball. The liminal activity makes it difficult to get back into work mode. It hypnotizes you out of your fast-track, back into medium-slow. Turning the computer back on, getting back into 4th and 5th fear on the faster track just becomes a well-deserved procrastination. Remember that working a 70 hour week or more is just the same as what you get done in 55 hours. Anything over this time is just a diminishing return because you’re not creative anymore, in fact after 55 hours you’re mechanical, reactive, and fatigued, which then positions you for further mistakes, leading to a bigger mess to inspire dread later.
4. QUIT LIVING BY YOUR IDEALS and FOSTER YOUR VALUES AND ASPIRATIONS INSTEAD.
The goal of life is not perfection. The blessing of life is the chance to be involved with life. The point of life is to live. An ideal is a picture of what you should hold dear. The fact is there is no particular way you should be, so concepts like these are based on the false notion that you must live up to idealized standards. True values come from what you think is more important and what you think is less important. Ideals are models of “good” or “perfect” behavior.Ideals are not based on choices but on implied obligations of how you need to be. In other words, no choice.You may have adopted an ideal or two when you were young. You thought that it was important to live up to these ideals as if they were secret promises you made to yourself. Then, you measured yourself against them.Most people do not happen to accomplish or experience their ideals by the deadline, and they feel as if they had let themselves down. If you have this kind of pattern going on, step back a minute and review your fundamental assumptions. Why did you think you had to be, do, accomplish, or experience any benchmark by any age? You simply made that up. It is not steeped in reality. It is pure fiction. Your ideal is what you obligate yourself to overload your work toward–you’re the only one keeping score and you will never meet your expectations…but you can choose to create around your true values. This is a life changing shift that will help you see why creating what matters to you after work is senior to your ideal of feeling better about yourself using work as a symbol. You not longer have to link deserving to desiring.
5. STOP AVOIDING WHAT’S AT HOME.
Work is an easy way to protect yourself from conditions you avoid. Maybe you’re avoiding intimacy at home, or work makes you feel appreciated or admired more, and at home you’re criticized and belittled. Alot of people nestle into work as a way to deny their actual lives, despite telling me how much it means to be home by 6pm. This later on precipitates bigger consequences when the reality of things continue to evolve into a death spiral which get’s moves beyond repair as time goes on. You must outsmart and override your fear of confrontation, and deal with things from a bigger, wiser voice.
Don’t lower your standards and lubricate the pain by seeking work as a fix. The gig is up!
For more about how to conserve your work energy and knowing your limits, check out Episode #24 of my Radical Creativity Podcast: Solving the Personal Energy Crisis. Listen below or click here.
Read more about how you can become more productive in my book, The Day I Built My BBQ, available on Kindle.