Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Multitasking and Mediocrity

In our world of excess we are often made to believe that the ability to multitask somehow makes us more valuable. I’d like to challenge you to examine that more closely.

As a coach who helps people get the most out of life, most of my clients say they want more quality in life. I can’t recall even one instance of someone wanting to add more quantity. What I hear most often is, “I feel mediocre in every part of my life” or “I’m stretched so thin that I don’t feel like anything in my life is excellent."

The solution to this problem is simple in concept but will certainly challenge us in application. The principle of doing less to achieve more seems counterintuitive. But, that is exactly what turns my clients around. When they create their to-do lists through the filter of their core values, and don't let the tyranny of the urgent dictate their behaviors, they quickly realize a greater sense of excellence in their lives.

I’m not saying that we won’t ever have to multitask. But, if you want more quality in your life at home and at work, and especially in your relationships, moderate your multitasking. (I don’t know anyone who feels valued when the person their talking with isn’t giving them their full attention) Be intentional about aligning your behavior with your values, and do less to achieve more.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

5 Steps to Better Life Balance

I recently gave a Life Balance presentation for a group of teachers in our school district. In that short presentation I offered 5 key points to better life balance-

1. Have an attitude of excellence. In all that you do, from simple mundane tasks to your greatest goals, have an attitude of excellence. Without focused effort to improve your life you'll never achieve excellence. The "just get by" attitude is too prevalent in our society. People spend too much effort hiding their weaknesses instead of being authentic and acknowledging them. Everyone has weaknesses, so get over it. Build on your strengths and tackle your key shortcomings with an attitude of excellence.

That brings me to the second point-
2. Learn to say no. Excellence is found by filtering your decision making through your core values and establishing priorities. Too many committees, too many volunteer groups, too much multitasking leads to mediocrity. The "jack of all, master of none" life doesn't lead to excellence and fulfillment. Ask anyone who excels in what they do and they'll all answer "it takes focus". Do less to accomplish more.

3. Find a vocation that you are passionate about. One of the areas I spend the most time coaching around is work/vocation. More than 50% of our society dislike what they do for work. Yet they are typically not the ones that come to me for coaching. The people I career coach with are the individuals who have made up their mind to pursue what they love. They want to figure out the best way to continue moving in the right direction. Look at it this way, a life of loving your work is worth the pain and difficulty of achieving it.

4. Make time to play. This is so simple yet it gets left out more than anything else. You can't expect to perform at your peak if you never schedule time to recharge your batteries. And I'm not talking about a vacation once a year. I'm talking about finding time to play every day. Make a list of the activities that feed you and find ways to fit them in daily. Example- I really enjoy reading and learning, so I schedule time to read, and I schedule it right before I'm going to do something that sucks energy from me. That way it doesn't seem so bad because I've just fed my person.

This takes us to the last point.
5. Find scheduling that works for you. I have a wife and children so I understand the need to sacrifice and know I can't have everything my way. However, it is still vital that I exercise point 2 and come up with a creative schedule that works balance into my life. After all, I'm no good to anyone if I'm tired and lacking focus and enthusiasm. People in my life know that I am going to disappoint them sometimes by not being at their beckon call. But they also know that when I'm with them I won't be multitasking. I will be fully present.

A life in balance impacts many.