14TH JANUARY 2019
You’ve probably heard the story about the professor who gives his students an empty jar and a pile of rocks, pebbles and sand to fit into it. When they try and fail, he shows them the correct way which is to put the large rocks in first, then the pebbles, then the sand (not the other way round).
To draw the obvious analogy, to achieve everything you want to do in a day you need to prioritise the things that matter.
To me, the story suggests every day is a jigsaw where with a bit of juggling and forethought all the pieces fit. I wish!
The advice probably did fit a different era. Yet, today, when an email from your boss or potential customer can ping on your phone at any hour and your inbox of 1,492 unread emails will never realistically be empty a new strategy is needed.
However you look at it, everything you want to do in a day may simply never fit.
Confronted by this reality most people do one of two things: either get more and more stressed with the impossibility of trying to get everything done (the workaholic way) or give up and stop trying altogether (a kind of f* you approach you might enjoy if passive aggression is your thing).
But there is a third, more mindful way. It starts with noting the reality of the too much to do/ too little time conundrum and accepting that this is just part of the crazy world we live in and not necessarily because of any wrongdoing on your part.
On top of this, you need to accept that you may not even get to do all the important things. There are just too many. Understanding this, your work is to choose the most important tasks to do and complete them. Then get up the next day and repeat.
Trust that you are playing your part and that one way or another enough of the important things will get done. Do the best you can, relax and enjoy what you create.
I call it a mindfulness at work practice. How could you apply it to your day?