We are not good at managing ourselves
Though we are more connected than ever, we are also more distracted and unfocused than ever. We have numerous devices buzzing and ringing notifying us constantly throughout the day and night. But the vast majority of these notifications are frankly meaningless. The result of our never-ending connectedness is that we have little time for prolonged periods of focused thinking.
Peter Drucker, the pioneer of modern management, wrote:
“In a few hundred years, when the history of our time will be written from a long-term perspective, it is likely that the most important event historians will see is not technology, not the Internet, not e-commerce. It is an unprecedented change in the human condition. For the first time – literally – substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they will have to manage themselves. And society is totally unprepared for it.”
As a leader, Drucker’s contention hits home even harder – if we can’t manage ourselves, what does that say about how we are managing our company and those we lead in the workplace?
More is not better
Too many of us are falling into the trap of “The undisciplined pursuit of more”, where we have a voracious appetite for more, falsely equating more meetings, more direct reports, more activity, more of whatever as better. But more of the wrong things is not better – less of the right things, the truly essential things, is better.
Greg McKeon, author of Essentialism: The disciplined pursuit of less writes that
“The way of the Essentialist … is about pausing to constantly ask, “Am I investing in the right activities?” There are far more activities and opportunities in the world than we have time and resources to invest in. And though many of them may be good, or even few very good, that fact is most are trivial and few are vital… Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done.”
One of the tools in the EOS Toolbox™ is what we call the Clarity Break™. Clarity breaks are where you schedule a regularly recurring meeting with yourself to focus your thinking and action.
Seven Clarity Break Tips:
- Schedule: If we don’t schedule Clarity Breaks, other people are effectively prioritizing our life. Take back control of your life by scheduling regular clarity breaks. Determine the frequency that works best for you – either daily, weekly or monthly.
- Location: A quiet place where you can’t be disturbed. For some, it’s a coffee shop or local library. For others getting up early in morning before the rest of their family gets up works best. The location needs to help you get out of your regular routine and allow you to have focused thinking time.
- Disconnect: Turn off all electronic devices and notifications. If you leave them on, you are continuing to let other people prioritize your life. A journal or notepad is likely going to lead to better thinking when compared with using an electronic device.
- Questions: Spur your thinking with great questions such as:
- Four Helpfuls: What is right that can be optimized? What is wrong that needs to be fixed? What missing that needs to be added? What is confused that needs to be clarified?
- Stop doing list: What activities do I need to STOP doing?
- What if? Think of alternative scenarios to help you challenge the current state. For instance, “If I fired myself today, what would my successor do differently?”
- EOS® Tool Review: For those implementing EOS® in their business, use some clarity breaks to take one EOS® tool per clarity break and reflect on that particular tool. Does that tool need to be updated? What needs to change? What is the tool telling you needs to be done differently?
- Reflect on all aspects of life: We are more than professional beings. We need to ensure we are reflecting on all areas of our life – from our physical and emotional health, our personal relationships, and our long-term life goals.
- Essential Action: Remember, taking clarity breaks is not about getting more done. Rather, it is about getting fewer of the right and best things done. Great clarity breaks will result in taking action that allows you and/or your company to focus on the truly important, while saying no to non-essential activities.
- Would taking a regular clarity break help you focus on the vital few activities that would lead to a more focused and productive life?
- Visit navigatethejourney.com and Schedule A Call with Tom Barrett to discuss how we help leaders focus on what is most important to get what they want from their business and life.
About The Author
Tom Barrett is a Professional EOS Implementer™ and the CEO of Navigate the Journey, a Nashville based firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs get what they want from their business and life.