Our lives are busy and full to the extent that we are like the Energizer Bunny that just keeps going and going and going. I know I feel like sometimes I take a licking and keep on ticking? My clients share with me that they feel that way too. What if we were to hit the pause button, what would happen?
For me creating space both physically and in my calendar enables me to see what is most important. Only then am I able to focus on the things that are fulfilling and really matter. Actually, the pause is the only way I can see what matters and is important. (Can you tell I just got back from a weekend yoga retreat?) It makes all the difference.
I recently attended a workshop on digital filing. It was clear that the concept of a paperless office was completely unrealistic. What is clear however is that we can simply reduce our use of paper by training ourselves to think differently? I pose to you the challenge of going Paper-LESS. Yes, LESS PAPER! Easy Paper-LESS changes:
Don’t automatically print out receipts of on-line purchases – Do file electronic confirmations in an email folder (mine is called on-line purchases!)
Don’t automatically print out emails you need to act on – Do put the action item into your task management system (on your to-do list, on to your calendar, etc.)
Don’t automatically print out airline ticket confirmations – Do put arrival and departure information (including flight numbers and confirmation codes) right onto your calendar.
These are simply places to start. However the real trick is the “automatically” part. You are going to have to change the habit you now have of hitting the print button at every turn. Instead of hitting Print try hitting a mental Pause and asking yourself “can I do with less paper?” Because when Paper-Less you have less clutter, and less clutter means fewer distractions from your important work.
When I was in college and had a term paper to write I would go to the Library and check out as many books and periodicals as I could find. I would read them, then write the paper. The amount of information available was finite.
It is not this way for today’s students. With the advent of computers there is no end to the amount of research that can be done. The amount of information available is infinite. But somehow, kids today have learned when enough is enough and are able to stop researching and start writing.
If your formative years were like mine, learning when to stop presents a challenge. We were taught to research a topic until all sources were exhausted. Could this be part of the reason why our work never seems to end? We were taught to research until we could research no more. Trying to do this in today’s day and age does nothing but over-stress us, over-work us, and cause us to run continually behind. We simply have access to too much information.
When working in today’s climate consider creating self-imposed limits:
I will research the topic for 1 hour and then act
I will read 4 books and 4 articles and then act
I will give myself one week to gather information and then act
The concept of stopping research before exhausting all options is uncomfortable for many detailed and perfectionist professionals. But when you consider the minimal incremental learning you gain from the 5th, 6th, and 7th books you will be more empowered to stop gathering and start producing. As my favorite Disney character Mary Poppins says, Enough is as Good as a Feast.