There’s always enough time


I finished my Christmas shopping today (online) and the overall experience was less fun as well as less stressful than other years. Partly because I enjoy going to stores and seeing all the festive decorations, perusing beautiful displays and feeling satisfied after accumulating bundles of perfect gifts. On the flip side, the busy crowds and bumper to bumper traffic are beyond frustrating. 

For many of us, the holidays bring a keen sense of urgency to make things special. We burn the midnight oil to decorate, bake, buy presents and uphold family traditions. We often feel “there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done,” which let’s be honest, it’s a feeling we hold year-round. And the sentiment is literally true. In the realm of infinite possibilities, we couldn’t get to everything in a day, year or even lifetime. 

I used to be the master of exhaustive to do lists. Did I get a lot of things done? Absolutely. Did I never get to some things? Absolutely. I created a very unpleasant cycle: write a list of everything in the world I needed to do, tackle a few things, cross them off, then ignore the list for a very long time — while feeling guilty about not doing many of the items. Sounds like a lot of fun, right? 

Lucky for me, I learned a better way. One of my coaches introduced me to the Eisenhower Matrix, which prioritizes tasks by urgency and importance. It looks like this: 

There are four quadrants and the general framework is: 

  • List the most important AND urgent items in quadrant 1, “Do first”
  • List the important, but not so urgent items in quadrant 2 and then “Schedule” time to do those tasks
  • List the urgent, but less important items in quadrant 3 and then “Delegate” those tasks
  • List the the neither urgent nor important tasks in quadrant 4 and then get this, “Don’t do” them

The last one really threw me for a loop, until I realized — I was either not doing them or they were a waste of time because they weren’t impactful. They were tasks that I believed they “had to be done,” but no one really noticed or appreciated. 

This exercise can be incredibly revealing. It creates an opportunity for you to be reflective and increase awareness of what’s important to you and what’s not. 

Here are some other helpful tips: 

  • Create one list with work and personal tasks. Managing more than one list is unwieldy and doesn’t set you up for success. 
  • Limit tasks to no more than 9 per quadrant. Less is truly more. When you have a reasonable amount of to dos, you’re more likely to tackle and finish them — giving you the opportunity to feel successful and great! 
  • Focus on one task per day. Marie Forleo calls this a “onesie.” For example, my onesie today was writing this blog. This doesn’t mean I only wrote today — I had meetings and client work. But the ONE thing I got done in addition to my regular work was this blog. It’s the one thing I would get done before the end of the day. I try to map out my onesie for each day of the week or start each morning with by setting an intention to finish one specific thing.
  • Timeblock your tasks. I build in blocks of time (typically 45 – 90 min) throughout the week to work on tasks and projects. It’s one of the most effective tools that gives you uninterrupted time to focus your efforts. Multitasking is less effective — it increases stress and decreases creativity. There are also too many switching costs that leave you exhausted at the end of the day. 

When you focus on the most important and urgent things in your life, you’ll not only accomplish them, but also feel good about the impact you’ve made. Over time, you’ll feel greater fulfillment. 

Letting go of the small stuff will set you free. You won’t have to think about, feel bad about or spend time doing things that don’t really matter. And here’s the best outcome, you’ll always have time to do what’s most important to you! 

The holiday season is a great time to start this practice. Try it out and see if you’re able to be more productive. I’d love to hear about your experience. 

Wishing you a holiday season full of love and joy! 

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