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. 

Quick, I Need More Time Stat!

We are almost to the weekend and if you are anything like me, you're looking at your "to do" list and feeling like you just don't have enough time in the day. Can I get an amen on that one? Someone needs to invent a time machine, like yesterday!!

You might have missed it while your nose was to grind stone but someone finally figured it out for us and it could change everything about how we get things done.

It's called an alarm clock.

Before you get mad and leave, which can be oh so tempting when someone shares news you don't want to hear, hear me out. I promise it'll be worth it. Hey if its not, you can delete this tab. So win, win?

Think about it, what is one sure fire way to create more time in your schedule to get things done? If you said, getting up earlier you're exactly right.

We all know this, but how many of us take action on it?

We love our sleep like a fat kid loves sugar donuts and the thought of sacrificing any of it is painful. Most of that pain however comes from regret. The regret that comes from knowing that if we got up earlier we could change our lives.

I'm not going to waste your time making a case for why we all could benefit from getting up earlier. I'm just going to assume you agree with me and want to make some changes to your life. Isn't that why you’re here? 

So you want to get up earlier? Today I've got one ultra simple way for you to add one hour to your day in just one week with minimal suffering. We've all tried, and failed, to get up earlier through the years. We do really good for a few days, ok maybe we do good for like 2 days and give up, but for whatever reason we can't make the change.

So how do you make it stick this time?

Set multiple alarms on your smart phone.  

The introduction of technology into our lives has many benefits, especially in helping us create habits. No other device has been more impactful on us than the "smart" phone, specifically the iPhone. That little device in your pocket has enormous power and potential to help you change your life.

Sit down for one minute and set five alarms for the upcoming week, one for each day. Each day you will set the alarm for 15 mins earlier than the day before. You'll hardly notice getting up 15 mins earlier.

Your alarms should look like this:

Now that your all set. Don't give it another thought until next Friday when you set your alarms for the following week. If you want to keep rolling back the clock feel free to do so, or you can simply enjoy having an extra hour each day next week. 

Developing a "Stop Doing" List

Most lead lives full of activity and lacking discipline. "To do" lists are overwhelming and ever growing. They are filled with wasteful activities, "we just have to do", that drain us of energy, steal our time and keep us from chasing truly great opportunities. 

Enter the idea of the "Stop Doing" list. 

A "stop doing" list in its most basic form is a list of the things that you and / or your team are going to stop doing.  

The solution to your crazy schedule and consequently a crazy task list isn't just another list but the process of evaluating exactly what you are doing each day. A "stop doing" list helps you take a cold hard look at what you are doing and literally stop doing those things that are not the most fruitful for you and your team.  

Like much of life, the power is in the process. 

How do you determine which activities are worth doing? Putting together a "stop doing" list begins by taking a hard look at your task list and asking yourself a series of questions.

1. What is the purpose of this task? It is always helpful to begin with the end in mind. To ask yourself the five year old's favorite question, why? Why is this item even on your "to do" list? What was it's origional purpose? Why are you doing each particular task? Purpose matters especially when it comes to the tasks that cosume your time. If the ultimate purpose of a task isn't worth the time, energy and resources it consumes ditch it. 

2. What outcomes does this task produce? Every task you perform produces an outcome. What is the result of doing each item on your list? What fuit does it produce? Make note of the outcomes your work produces. If what you are doing isn't producing good results that are helping you achieve your goals, it is probably something wasting your time.    

3. If I did not already do this, would I do it? Thinking about starting over often helps provide clarity. There are any number of things you do each day that were once great and needed items but whose time has passed. Honestly evaluate each and every item as if it were a new idea even if you've been doing it for years. Just because its the way things have always been done isn't a good enough reason to keep something on your to do list. You have too much going on for wasteful tasks born of tradition.  

4. Does it fall in my area of strength? Focus on what you do best. A stop doing list allows you to focus on your strengths. Stop doing things you're not best equipped to do. Chances are that even if the task is worth doing, someone else around you might be better suited to perform it.