Have you recently had one of those days where you sit in your chair at the end of the afternoon feeling like you have accomplished nothing, or too little? The minutia has sucked you in like a planet into a black hole, and you feel that you may never bless the world again with your presence. You are wearing concrete shoes and sinking to the bottom of the sea. When you look up, all that you see are the luminescent bottoms of your co-conspirator’s boats, speeding away to their dreams.
I have had too many of those days, till recently I finally said to myself, “STOP. STOP AND THINK! What kind of legacy are you going to leave behind with this pathetically pitiable level of productivity? If you are lucky, you have about 15,000 days left. Use them!”
Well, let us face reality. You only have two options: you can either add more hours to the day, or you can DO MORE WITH THE HOURS YOU HAVE. I do not know about you, but I am down to seven hours of sleep now (I have a best friend who only gets five). Besides, how are you going to be productive if you are tired all the time, anyway? So that leaves us with the other alternative.
Do you like bananas? Even if you do not, just go with me here. When you eat a banana, you peel it first, right? That is unless of course you want a stomach ache. But, going with this simple metaphor, do we not already have a stomach ache?
There is something my father used to say back before I was even born: “Is this necessary?” He would say this to my mother when she reached childishly for some extravagant item in the grocery store (you know, wanting champagne on a beer budget). She would say, “No, but I want it anyway.” Cute. This may have worked for my mom, but not for those of us who are trying to “get more out of our hours.”
This is where P.E.E.L. comes in. It stands for: Purpose, Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Length (Duration).
Before you do anything else, I am going to ask you to give yourself a giant gift: ask yourself: WHY YOU ARE DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING? And you better have a really good answer. We usually do things that we should not really be doing, or, at least not in that time and space. There is a time and space for everything.
Now ask yourself: HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PERFORM THAT TASK? Is it going to be the smartest way, or the easiest way? The smartest way may require strategy, multitasking, delaying, delegating, etc, etc, but I promise you that the time you take in planning a little will save you double or triple that time in your task. Here is a simple example. Have you ever noticed the difference between a calm, well-tipped waiter or waitress and his or her opposite? The former do everything possible on EVERY trip made from kitchen to tables and back again. The latter, well … have probably already quit!
Whatever task you are involved in, just accept that there is someone doing it BETTER than you. That is right, swallow your pride, get on Google, and research methodologies for your task. I promise that you will figure out a way to achieve something without having to lose hundreds of hours due to unnecessary learning curves. Need I say more here?
Most of us become obsessed with completing a task and we work on that task all day and our other projects become sorely neglected. When other projects involve answering critical emails or performing daily disciplines that are vital to your career’s continuing success … well … Houston, we have a problem. I would suggest that you slate time slots every day for the things you MUST do. Make a weekly schedule and try to stick to it. I know it sounds impossible, but when that slot’s time is up, MOVE ON TO SOMETHING ELSE. Come on, I know you can do it! (That includes you artists, too). Just try it. Stop and move on. There are always exceptions, such as critical deadlines; and that is fine. But more often than not, exceptions are just well-disguised excuses.
So go out and achieve more in less time, and remember to P.E.E.L. those bananas before you eat them!
Yours in literature,