I’ve got lots going on right now. I’m planning some major projects, changing career, moving to another continent, going traveling, trying to be a father to my amazing son and a husband to my beautiful wife. It’s tricky trying to fit it all in. I’m consistently finding that I’m not getting it right. There’s a balance between it all and my scales keep tipping. I’m finding I’m over capacity.
We’re not all perfect. We make mistakes. We say things we don’t always mean. We do things we haven’t entirely thought through. We know that we’re doing things for the right reasons and when we look back we can see the faults, the mistakes. It’s easy with hindsight. Certainly, that’s what I’m finding.
I’m making mistakes. Essentially, it’s about capacity. It’s about being over capacity. Just one or two of the things I plan to accomplish are enough. Trying to do them all to a high level is a huge undertaking. When I take them on I believe I have the capacity for them all. Surely, all these things can’t be that difficult?
Yet, the reality is, if I want to do them properly I need to fully invest in them. That means I need to put more time and energy into them. The problem is, time and energy are finite resources. There are only 24 hours in a day and we only have so much energy.
Of course, there are life hacks out there that can make us more productive, give us more time, make us more energetic but, when that’s all said and done, we are at the limits of our finite resources.
What To Do?
I’m taking action. I’m going to address this. It’s better to do less and do it properly than to do more but with holes in it. Here’s what I’m doing about it and I hope you can use these principles in your life too:
It sounds simple but writing down what you need to do provides clarity of thought. Our thoughts bounce around in our brain. When we write we tend to have more structure. Write down what you want to do, what you need to achieve, how you’re going to do it, what your priorities are. Write as much or as little as you want – some of us will need to write a lot, some of us won’t. Write the amount that works for you.
Define what it is you need to do. You might have done this when you wrote it all down. This time I’m talking about today. And then tomorrow. And then the day after. Define what you will do today. What action or actions you’re going to take. It might be small. Today might be a rest day – define that. Resting is ok. What about tomorrow? Write this down the previous day so that when you wake up you know exactly what you need to do. Maybe you’ll just pick one thing you need to do – that’s ok too. But define it. Then do it.
You need to hold yourself accountable. You’ve defined and said what you’re going to do, even if it’s only one thing. Now you need to make sure you follow through. Try journalling. Do it at the end of the day. It can take just a few minutes, that’s all. Use it to hold yourself accountable for what you’ve done. Take responsibility and write it down. The more you do this, the more likely you are to follow through.
4. Cut Things Out
Our capacity is limited. Focus on what value you can add. Focus on what’s important to you. Focus on what it is that you need to do. Do this. Period. Don’t do more. It’s always nice to do more but don’t. Remember, we’re doing this because we’re hitting our capacity. Don’t take on more. Not right now. Cut out what you don’t need to be doing. Get someone else to do it. Postpone the project. Concentrate on your priorities and do them well. Leave the rest of the stuff alone.
5. Say No
This is hard. I like to say yes. Saying yes is the easy thing to do. I don’t like to upset people or let people down. But, more and more, I’m saying no. It’s the only way. There’s only so far I can stretch. James Altucher has written a great book about saying no. I’m going to be saying no to more people – I’m sorry if you’re one of them but I hope you understand.
It’s not easy. While writing this I already said yes to something I could have said no to – next time I’ll say no. I’m not going to be able to fully apply these five principles to perfection. I’ll still make mistakes along the way, but if I apply these principles I know I’ll improve. I’ll keep working at it.
It’s up to you now. Lots of people that read this won’t take action. I’m sorry if that offends but it’s true. Give this a go. Be one of the people that action. Try it. Dont say no to this. Say yes to freeing up your capacity.
Main image by Giulia Forsythe.