I promise you this is not a trick or play on words. If you want to get more done or at the very least get more out of what you do, do less things at the same time.
How many items do you have on your to-do list? How many different things are floating around in your mind that you know have to get done?
All of the pressures of your personal, professional, and spiritual life sometimes feel like giant weights on our backs pushing us down. Unfortunately, many of us chose to do the one thing that stops us from overcoming. We try to do more in the same amount of time.
Multitasking and non-essential activities destroy our good intentions of wanting to get more done. This seems counter-intuitive and your first response may be, “How am I to get more done without multi-tasking.”#Multitasking and non-essential activities destroy our good intentions. Click To Tweet
My Experience in Getting Things Done
It’s safe to say that if you found me on campus during one of my 15 minute to hour breaks on campus, you’d see me trying to quickly eat a lunch or snack, responding to email, trying to study for the test or quiz I had in the next class, listening to a podcast, and maybe trying to carry on a conversation if I wasn’t alone.
More often than not I completed about 10% of what I wanted to do and felt strained. Most other people I knew lived similar day-to-day lives.
In hindsight, it was foolish to think I’d accomplish anything by trying to do all of those things at the same time, but yet we all do this everyday.
It’s so easy to get caught up in what we love to do that it begins to take on a life of it’s own. Even with the noblest intentions and even if we get everything done, how do we feel afterwards? Drained , tired, numb, lack of control, etc.
Principles in Getting Things Done
Two thousand years ago Jesus, himself, warned us to “ Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap” (Luke 21:34).
Setting aside the carousing and drunkenness, think about the anxieties of daily life. What are your daily anxieties? He knew even then that our worries, fears, and obligations slowly wear us down and destroy who we really are.
I didn’t personally realize how much of the above lifestyle I lived destroyed who I was until after I graduated. All the things I did prevented me from spending time to develop my interior-self, relationships with others, and my relationship with God.
We must begin to do less, not just to accomplish more, but to save ourselves.
The best way to start this is to focus on the primary activity of whatever it is you’re doing. At this moment for me it’s writing this article. For you it may be playing with your kids, driving to work, balancing the family’s budget, watching a football game, talking with a friend, etc.
Once you identify your primary activity you can begin to separate what’s not essential.
I didn’t say “distractions”, because of its negative context. Music, television, talking with friends, playing sports, etc. are intrinsically good things and should be lived to the fullest when at the moment they are your primary activity.
However, when we begin to combine them and try to do them all at once they divide us and keep us from being the best we can be.We must begin to do less, not just to accomplish more, but to save ourselves. Click To Tweet
Practical Examples of Getting Things Done
I love music and podcasts and you’ll rarely see me without my headphones. This week though I tried not to listen to music while exercising, working, cleaning the house, and driving. At first the silence was deafening and drove me crazy.
I continued to say no and it amazed me what the focus revealed to me. I noticed how beautiful the scenery is changing this spring while driving. I felt how my body reacted to the different exercises and pushed through my cardio work. I cleaned the house and completed a long-list of projects in half the time I thought it would.
I invite you to pick one secondary activity that usually accompanies your primary one and give it up for a day. You could also pick a primary activity and chose to focus fully on that until it’s completed. I promise that even if it doesn’t significantly speed up what you’re doing, this will free you to enjoy and appreciate more the activities that fill your day.
The point is that you will be much more productive. As you cut out ancillary things, and focus on the the tasks at hand, enjoying them more, you will be more productive. And as you accomplish more things in a day, you will have more time to love your neighbors. To get involved in the community. To accomplish more good works for God.
Also published on Medium.