For 34 days I’ve had writer’s block. There are so many interesting things happening around me that it isn’t that I lack for good topics to focus my attention on, but for some reason getting the words onto the page just didn’t happen. Maybe the learning for me (and maybe you) is that sometimes we need to slow down or jump off the daily business treadmill, in order to recharge, refocus and re-evaluate our priorities. Like every other busy business professional, I find it hard sometimes to keep the blogging momentum going, so I can totally relate to those of you who tell me you just “don’t have time” to do it. Believe me, I get it. And, frankly, I’m a little jealous sometimes that several of my blogging hero’s – Chris Brogan, Seth Godin and Paul Castain – manage to post pretty much daily despite the fact that they have heavily scheduled business days themselves.
Barb, what’s up with you, girl? That’s the question I have been asking myself off and on over the past several weeks. I finally think that I know why I’ve had writers block. What I realize is that it is all about choosing, sticking to, AND scheduling our priorities.
Ban the To Do List
Colleague Kent Gregoire, who heads up Responsibility Centered Leadership and The Alternative Board of Metro Atlanta is also the thought leader behind Living in the Now®: The Overwhelm Solution, and Kent has convinced me that “to do” lists are a waste of time, and more importantly, they often cause more problems than they solve…like adding stress to your life that is truly unnecessary. Kent advocates that we banish our “to do” lists forevermore in favor of a more effective way to get those important priorities completed.
Crazy notion, right? Banning the “to do” list. I can hear you now…”Are they nuts? If I don’t have a get it done list, how will I accomplish anything?” Believe me, I understand the reaction. We have been trained as a society to make “lists” of items to work on each day and check off as we complete them. But in my own experience, I find that often there are items on the list that just seem to get transferred from one daily list to another. Come on’ be honest…this happens to you too, doesn’t it? What Kent shared with me is an approach that is both simple and utterly powerful in what it can do for you mentally and emotionally when you apply the technique to daily life.
It Is About Completeness
If you need to accomplish a particular task…could be going to the grocery store, writing that blog post, following up sales calls or washing your car, you need to “schedule it”. In other words, don’t write it on a list. Immediately block the time on your calendar to complete the action and move on. When the scheduled time comes, complete whatever it is and move on knowing that you never have to worry about it again.
I’m starting to get in a groove with the approach, and I already feel calmer about my day. Mental traffic about what I haven’t gotten done or angst about pending things that must happen is not walking me up in the early hours of the morning. Everything that matters and is important is “scheduled in time”, as Kent says. As I get better at the process, I will schedule things in advance or at the same time that I’m scheduling another activity, perhaps a sales meeting. I already know there will be follow up, so why not schedule the follow up time on the calendar at the moment that I book my sales meeting?
A list of to do items that remain separated from your calendar means there is a really good chance that lots of other daily, mindless, non-critical stuff will impede your ability to finish what you had intended. I had blogging on my list each day, but I didn’t make a formal commitment to block the time on my calendar each day to get it done. So guess what…it just didn’t happen.
Give it a try.
The next time you say to yourself, I need to get XYZ done, stop what you are doing, and evaluate your priorities, your currently scheduled activities and then “schedule” the appointment on your calendar to complete the action instead of writing it on a list.
The end result from taking this approach is that you’ll feel less stressed. You will also be living your life in the present – living now – instead of worrying about what you should have done or still need to do. I hope you’ll give it a go, and if you do, I’d love to hear from you.