Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Create Some Breathing Room

In my last post I compared the stress of having too much on your plate to overeating at a Thanksgiving meal. Although creating breathing room on Thanksgiving is just a matter of unbuttoning the top of your pants, creating breathing room in your schedule is a little more challenging. There is no magic button or switch that you can flip that will give you a little more room in your schedule or time in your day. But freedom from stress and schedule overload is achievable when you are willing to do the work. Since you have created your vision of what your stress free life looks like then I’m confident you have come back to roll up your sleeves and do the work to begin living your Best Life now. Keeping your Vision at the top of your mind will make the tough decisions that follow much easier to accomplish and in some cases even enjoyable. So roll up your sleeves, grab a pen and paper and let’s get started creating some breathing room.

Create the following table on a piece of paper. Create 6 Columns with the 6 items listed below across the top. Then begin to fill in the activity column with the tasks, work, and responsibilities that fill your calendar on a typical week. I’ve provided a couple examples:

Activity - Heart - Impact - Growth - Obligation - Total

Marketing my business

Now in each of the columns rank the activity 1-5 (one being the least and 5 being the highest value). To explain how this works I would rate marketing my business as a 5 under impact because I believe that task has a high impact to my business and thus my life. For housekeeping I may give the heart category a 1 because I really, really don’t enjoy the task but I would have to give it 3 or 4 under obligation because it is a responsibility I have. Once you have totaled each row then it’s time to identify the activities that have the lowest total score. Circle the lowest totals.

This is where to start the work and hopefully the light bulb has already gone off. These are the activities that you are filling your schedule with that really don’t matter or have very little positive impact on your life. So here is where the tough work begins – it’s time to dump it, delegate it or double up.

Dump It – Is what it sounds like. These are activities that just no longer are important or a priority. Although they may have had a purpose when you started or were serving a goal initially they don’t any longer. Life changes and often times we keep doing what we were doing without even thinking. Pick up the phone, send an email, whatever it takes – take the steps to dump it. And dump it quickly before you talk yourself out of it.

Delegate It – Sometimes activities can score low in the heart, impact and growth category but because they are an obligation we cannot get rid of them. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t delegate it, hire it out, or share the responsibility with another to lighten our load. Stand up for yourself and your sanity and take this step.

Double Up – This is where you get creative. And if you’re not creative then seek out a friend or Life Coach to help you brainstorm. Look at the activities low scoring ones and high scoring ones as well. Where can you double up activities so that you can accomplish multiple activities in less time? Here are a couple examples from my own life. A very effective way for me to market my business is to speak before business groups. Yet speaking before business groups accomplishes multiple activities – marketing, networking, and client prospecting – just to name a few. Another example would be my love of horseback riding and hanging out with girlfriends. So I joined a trail club which is primarily women who get together and share friendship and their love for horses.

And one last tip. If the time cost of the activity isn’t enough then consider the dollar cost of the activity. Get fired up to eliminate those low scoring activities that are not only costing you precious time but money as well.

There you have it - Dump It - Delegate It - Double Up - Do it. Live Your Best Life Now.


Betty Walker, The Wise Web Lady said...

This sounds like a great exercise - I am definitely going to try it out!