Time management is tough for a lot of us. We are non-stop from the moment we get up and feel like there is never enough time to get everything done. We shake our heads in disbelief and wonder how other people do it.
Think about your own life for a minute. With your busy schedule and growing To-Do list, does it feel like your life is energetic or draining? Bustling or flat-out busy?
If you’re more like the latter of those two options, then maybe this post is for you.
Imagine this scenario:
You never play the lottery but you happen to be at the neighborhood gas station and you decide to pick up a ticket on a whim. You forget about the ticket until the next morning and decide to check on the winning numbers, just for fun. To your amazement, you won the jackpot! You are now $30 million richer!
All of a sudden, your schedule would free up considerably, wouldn’t it? Time and money are yours in abundance. What would you do differently? What would you, as it relates to this conversation, stop doing?
Jim Collins is known most for his incredible book, Good to Great. (you are missing out if you have not read it yet) In it, he argues that of your two lists – To-Do vs Stop-Doing – the second list is more important than the first. In my experience, I’d have to agree.
Almost all of our focus tends to be on putting together this exhaustive list of all that we have to do. But rarely ever do we stop and consider all that we should not be doing. Just as the lottery scenario implies, there is a lot that we do that is really not critical to our day. In fact, I would argue that much of our busyness is due to our own making.
For many of us, we are (dare I say it) addicted to being busy. We wear busyness like it’s a badge of honor. But in reality, we’re stealing from our joy and it robs of us an energized and fuller life.
Here’s what you can do to set up your Stop-Doing List.
Once a week I suggest a short, scheduled meeting with your spouse that should take no longer than 15 minutes (I encourage Sunday evenings before the new week begins). During this time, you simply go over your family calendar and all of the kids’ events or busy activities that you have coming up.
Not only is it a great way to improve your marital communication and protect from the stress of miscommunication, but it helps you to determine priorities and can help your family work better as a team. By doing this short meeting, you will also gain a much clearer picture of what must get done. Some things on your schedule will be non-negotiable (picking up kids from activities or church, for example). These should be on your To-Do List. From there you should do your One Thing (which I talk about here).
But, as you can guess, the next list is the most important.
As Jim suggests, the next step is to determine what you WON’T DO. Look at your list during this 15 minutes and honestly evaluate everything that is on your To-Do list. You have to accurately and honestly look at everything that you’ve put down if you really want to free up your time, reduce your stress, and increase your energy for the week.
Then ask yourself these questions:
- What can I stop doing?
- Is there any other way of getting those things done? (there always is)
- How would it help our family focus on what really matters most?
Life is busy. But it wasn’t meant to be the circus that we tend to live in. Energize your life and your family and stop doing what doesn’t have to be done. Do what matters most and lose the rest. You will feel like you’ve truly won the lottery once you do!
What comes to mind when you read this? Does it feel impossible or can you see how this would help?
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