Most of us are overly busy, so there’s very little chance that if you’re actually reading this post that you have an empty schedule.
It might be that you’re reading this post because you’re distracting yourself from what you really need to be doing right now.
And you’re distracting yourself because you don’t want to do what you really need to be doing for whatever reason:
- You don’t think you’re good at it.
- You just plain don’t like to do it.
- You are afraid of doing it.
- You love being lazy and procrastinating.
- You’re not clear on what you actually should be doing at this very moment.
I battle with this last bullet point often: I’m not clear what I should be doing at any given moment.
We have so many irons in the fire that we procrastinate from making the choice about the next most important task or project we must engage.
This lack of clarity is why we spend so much time in our email inboxes. Since we struggle making choices on our next most important task, we choose to allow others, in the form of their emails to us, determine what we do next.
In essence, we allow other people to determine our priorities and to clarify what to do next. It’s easier than sitting down with our stuff and sifting through the demands on our minds and time and making decisions.
So, then, the problem: lack of clarity.
The solution (I promised this in the headline, didn’t I?).
As mentioned above, I struggle with this, too. But here are some thoughts on what practices are starting to help with gaining a bit of clarity each and every day.
Gain Clarity by Reviewing Who Should Do Each Task
Regardless if you decide to do the task or if you react to someone’s email, ask yourself this simple question with every single task:
Am I the best person to do this task?
If you start answering ‘No’ to that questions, you’ll find patterns. Decide who should be doing that thing and start forwarding those tasks on.
Gain Clarity by Reviewing Why You Do Each Task
Is this a thing that even needs to be done? Be diligent about weeding out old habits. Do you really have to read every email newsletter? Does every email require a response? Why are you doing it?
If you can’t think of good reasons, then you have a bit more clarity.
Gain Clarity by Reviewing How You Feel About Everything You Do
This one is more ontological (a fancy word that has to do with your ‘being’ or who you really are and how you’re made up).
Do you like doing this next task? Is it engaging your mind and heart? Is it in your skill set?
You might still have to do the thing, but as you ask yourself the question about how you feel about the task, you’ll start gaining clarity on the work you (a) love to do and (b) are truly good at doing.
Clarity Doesn’t Come in a Flash
You and I must be intentional about gaining clarity every day. We have to ask these types of questions regularly in order to make sure that we don’t just shotgun our work lives in a billion different directions.
Gaining clarity over time will help us better leverage the small amount of time we have for work for optimum effectiveness.
As you discover what you love to do and what you’re good at and which things should actually be taking up your time, you discover where you can make your greatest contribution.
This post was inspired by Day 5 of 10 Days to a Better Blog, a short online workshop from John Saddington. The exercise was about detecting blogging patterns (which categories, tags, topics that you gravitate toward) and using those patterns as clues where you might want to dive deeper.