Abandoning Balance

Achieving balance in your life sounds great. The way it’s talked about, you’d think that if you could perfectly balance your time you’d experience peace like never before. I’m no different. I envision a life where I get everything done, make everyone happy and never feel stressed or hurried because I’ve got this time management thing down. And just like you, I’m never going to get there. It’s just like the stories I read to my son each night, a fantasy that will never come true. A perfectly balanced schedule is impossible. 

Abandon balance as a goal. It’s not going to help either of us get more done. 

One glance at the pages of any history book tells the story in full. They're filled with story after story of meaningful lives rarely characterized by balance. Look carefully and you’ll see men and women who tackled the challenges before them with passion. They didn’t expend their energy trying to balance forty different things, instead, they gave their all to each part of their life. 

What are the things you’re passionate about? You wife? The kids? A project you’re working on? A side hustle you’re building? What would it look like if you allowed your passions to drive you instead of the mythical creature called balance? 

I’ll confess, I don’t have all the answers. This is still a new concept for me, and I’m working to understand it more fully. What I want to share with you today, however, are a few things I’ve learned through this process.  

  1. You have to decide how you’ll spend your time before other people do it for you. 
  2. Time management is life management. 
  3. Every time you want to make progress, you’re met with some form of resistance.  
  4. Balance is a bad pursuit - it doesn’t feel like an advance, it feels like a retreat.
  5. People who accomplish significant things aren’t balanced people, they’re passionate people.
  6. The passion you bring to your work, brings glory to God regardless of what you do. 
  7. You have the same amount of time as every other person in history. 
  8. Not all hours feel equal. Energy levels wax and wane throughout the day. 
  9. Do what you’re best at when you’re at your best. 
  10. Schedules are a good thing.  

I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking the answer to getting more done, is working harder. It’s my default setting. Whenever I meet resistance, I put my head down and push harder. It rarely if ever ends well. Burnout and breakdown are usually its side effects. Hard work isn’t a bad thing, but it can’t be all you have. You’ve got to plug into passion.  

How would it transform your life to pursue everything you do with passion? 

Let’s stop playing defense by pursuing balance and go on offense by engaging in every area of our life with passion. I’m still learning how to do this, but love the shift in mindset it brings. Going on offense is so much more fun than sitting back and playing defense. 

What You Focus On

Have you noticed that the more you focus on a problem or mistake the more you repeat it?

That’s because your focus determines your output. 

What you focus your energy on is what you’ll produce. 

In other words, your behavior follows your mindset.

If you’re focused on not doing a particular thing, chances are you’re setting the stage for it to happen again. And again. And again. 

While taking things seriously and holding the line is important, so is focusing on the right things. 

Don't waste time and energy dwelling on the negative. Focus intently on the positive instead. 

There is a positive side to every problem you encounter. Focus on it. 

It is always better to be for something positive, than against something negative. 

Discipline your mind to think in this way. Discipline it to focus in the right direction. 

Change your thinking, and you’ll change your life. But as with everything else, that’s going to require discipline. 

3 Tips That Help Me Get More Done

In this crazy, mixed up and hurried world we find ourselves, we have endless "to do" lists and dozens of other things going on with family and friends. There is little time to spare and the quick pace has us pulling our hair out because we simply can't get it all done.

There are a million different tips to getting more done. Over the last several years, three tips have made an impact on my life and I want to share them with you.

1. Start tomorrow today. Ever arrive at the office or start your day in the fog of indecision? You know you have a ton of things to do, but aren't really sure where to begin? This kind of indecision can be paralyzing. You end up wandering from task to task with no real sense of direction or plan to your day. You spend your day in a passive posture, allowing your day to lead you instead of you leading it. 

Actively engage your day by planning it out the night before. Sit down with pen and paper or your favorite "to do" list app and write down everything you need to accomplish in order to make tomorrow a win. Not only will you find that you sleep more soundly, you'll wake up with purpose. When your feet hit the ground you'll know exactly what to do.      

2. Use email templates. As Barnabas Piper recently stated on the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, "Email begets email. You send an email it will come back three-fold." Answering email feels like a productive task, but in reality it keeps you from spending your time on what truly matters. The more email you send, the more you receive. Its a never ending cycle. 

One way to decrease the amount of time you spend on email is to create templates for common emails and use them. Better to spend time constructing a good and effective communication once than to repeatedly create ineffective email on the same topic. More on how to take back control of your inbox.  

3. Make fewer decisions. You can't make decision after decision without paying a cost. Many times this cost will be poor decisions at the end of the day. It could be something as small as wrecking your diet by making poor food choices or as major as an emotional decision with big consequences. In either case, you make the poor decision in large part because you have depleated your will power on unimportant things. The road to effectiveness lies in making the minimal number of decisions possible. The objective is not to do as much as possible but to save your decision making for the decisions that truly matter. 

The solution is to automate as much as possible. Much like using templates for email, you can make the seemingly mundane decisions you make each day, such as what to wear and what to eat, ahead of time. Script as many of these decisions as possible. Just as an offensive coordinator scripts the first several plays of the game, you can script the first hour of your day. This will help you begin the day on the right foot and a clean slate for the decisions you will have to make later in the day.  

Bonus tip:

The Sticky Note Trick

If you are overwhelmed by everything on your "to do" list, pick three items and write them on a single sticky note. Next, focus on nothing else but those three tasks until they're done. Then wad up the sticky and throw it away. Repeat until you've conquered your list. 

Bonus Resources: 

How To Get Things Done via Tim Challies

Choice Minimal Lifestyle via Timothy Ferriss