Our culture has a “busyness” problem. I would even call it an epidemic! There are not enough hours in the day, yet our schedules keep filling up with items that stretch us thinner and thinner. It doesn’t take long before you snap! But is there anything we can do about it? I believe there is.
There are some great resources out there on how to best use your time. I have used many of these in the past. You could:
- Use a timer to help you stay focused.
- Create a “stop doing” list.
- Get up an hour earlier each morning.
These are great tools, and I have tried them all. But sometimes they still don’t work. Why? Because I can’t even figure out where to begin!
As crazy as that sounds, I bet you have had the same problem. It should be easy, right? The more tasks we have to accomplish, the more options we have to begin with. But the opposite is true. We get overwhelmed and end up spinning our wheels working on a little bit of everything.
Hands down, the MOST frustrated I feel is when I am busy the entire day, but HAVE ALMOST NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT! As you can tell from my serious ALL CAPS, it makes me want to scream. I would rather have a day doing nothing because at least I would have gotten some rest.
But there is hope!
Recently, I started to look at my days (and life!) differently. I can’t remember where I read this or how I remembered it. I know I didn’t make it up, but it just popped in my head one day when I was feeling completely overwhelmed. It was like my subconscious was coming to my rescue, and my mind was bringing some old info to my frontal lobe. But however it happened, a light switched on.
Now I look at life in three specific phases. These phases allow me to filter my tasks into what I should be doing right now. This has increased my production a TON!
The three phases of life that will help you take control are preparing, creating, and sharing.
Do you have a big project coming up? Is there a large assignment you are responsible for? Do you have a presentation to share? The preparing phase is one of the most important phases of life. In order to be productive and make a change, we must be prepared. The problem with the preparing phase, at least for me, is that I tend to get stuck here.
Creating is really what it is all about. What are you creating in life? This is how we build something that will matter. I love to dream and strategize, but without creation, none of that matters.
Seth Godin is famous for saying, “If it doesn’t ship, it doesn’t matter.” You can have the best plans. You could have created the most helpful product. But if you don’t share it with the world, it is completely irrelevant. Eventually, we have to share our well-planned creations.
I now look at my day, my week, and my month and ask, “Which phase am I currently in?” This allows me to break my task list down into manageable parts. ! If I am in the “preparing” phase, I don’t need to waste a lot of time on social media. That can wait until tonight when I am relaxing on the couch.
If I am in “creating” phase, it is time to turn off the plans and prep. That is the whole “paralysis of analysis”. When the creation phase begins, it is time to turn off the preparing phase. This one lesson has jumpstarted my year!
Treat Life Like You’re Cooking Dinner
I love to cook! It is a passion that I really enjoy. Sometimes, if we haven’t done meal planning for that night, I like to pretend I am a contestant on Chopped. I look at what we have and try to come up with a creative and tasty dinner.
Cooking is a great example of the three phases we are talking about. When cooking a meal, you use these three phases. You begin with the Prep and cut up all your veggies and get the ingredients organized for the recipe. Next, you Create! Bake this, simmer that. Check for doneness. Finally, you Share it. The food goes on the plate and you enjoy it with your family or friends.
This is the power of the three phases. By knowing what phase you are in, you can more easily choose the best tasks to complete.
But Sometimes Life is a Dinner Party… Or worst, Thanksgiving!
I already know what you are thinking. “Yeah, Matt, but there is no way I could possibly focus on one phrase at a time!” I understand that. Most of the time, we have to figure out how to balance these three phases. It’s a lot like hosting a dinner party.
My wife and I love having people over for dinner. I get to show off a little bit of my cooking skills and Kristen… Well, Kristen gets to drink wine. In order to pull off a great dinner party, you have to look at the meal you want to serve and create a plan. There is a balance of Preparing, Creating, and Sharing.
Thanksgiving is the best (worst?) example of this! You have to coordinate who is bringing what, when they are arriving, and when everything is going into that one, poor oven! It can be a nightmare. Too many things to do and not enough time. Yet, we always eat on Thanksgiving. The turkey gets cooked, and the pumpkin pie gets eaten.
The best Thanksgivings happen when we balance the three phases. Sometimes you Prepare while something else is cooking (Creating). Other times you eat dinner (Sharing) while the pies are baking (Creating). It is a balance of the three phases. But you have to know what phase to do at which time or it would all be a disaster.
Why I Haven’t Posted Since December
This is my first blog post in a month. But I haven’t been lazy. I decided I was going to dive head first into a major Preparing phase. I do believe that most of life is spent balancing the three phases. However, I chose to do something different, and it is already paying off!
I believe this is going to be the best year ever for Phosphorus Project. It will no longer be just a side hobby. I want to impact people with the message that God has given me to share! So, I took some time to prepare. I learned a lot-read books, watched webinars, and listened to podcasts. I did some serious planning and calendar scheduling. And I did some major writing. As a matter of fact, I just launched my very first ebook!
This was a huge project. And I would not have been able to be ready for this year without breaking my goals down into these three phases. I prepared. I then created and wrote the book. And today kicks off the Sharing phase! It is now time to share my work with the world!
Stay tuned! I have a lot of great things coming up! Oh, and I want you to have my book, as well! It is 100% totally free.