(Parenthetically, this is a critical point. Did you know that your brain is wired to always provide the answers to the questions you ask? For example, ask yourself the question, “Why is my business stuck in second gear?” Did you hear the answers yet? They may not be the truth but they are the ones you believe to be the reasons. Now re-phrase the question: “How can I get my business out of second gear?” Did you notice a different response? Questions change what you are focusing on. To maximize the power of using questions as a business tool, Tony Robbins does a thorough job in his best-selling book, Awaken the Giant Within.)
The fastest route is usually what we strive for because it allows the minimum amount of time to get from where we are to where we’re going. Right? Otherwise, we would mosey along and not be concerned about the route or the time. The more we can shave off the driving time frame, the more we can add to the time frames on either side – for some it’s another cup of coffee, for others it’s getting to the office a few minutes earlier. It’s a tug o’ war of priorities with a commute in between.
This efficiency is highly promoted in our western culture but it comes at the cost of making ruts in our thinking and stress to our experience. The route from here to there only serves us in the “getting to”. We approach our living in a similar manner: what’s the shortest distance, the fastest time, the easiest way to get things done. Why do we do that? Why do we habitually set arbitrary time frames and then try to cram as much into them as possible?
Children learn so rhythmically at a younger age because they are not controlled by an imposed time frame. Imagine the pressure if we forced children into time frames: “You’ve got two weeks to learn to walk” or, “You’re taking too long to learn to talk.” Unfortunately some parents are trapping their children into such silliness. But by the time we arrive in elementary school, the pressure to perform within a time frame is well established. Our education system goes to great lengths to cement the mindset that the more you can accomplish in any given period of time, the more rewarding your life will be.
There are thousands of books on time management, increasing productivity, multitasking, goal setting, to do lists, etc. to assist us in making better(?) use of time. We live with a multitude of sayings that support the limited time frame mentality: “Hurry up, I haven’t got all day!” “Why is this project taking you so long?” “Come on! Time is running out.” With change accelerating, and more and more influences to manage, our time frames are being crammed well to overflowing.
We are creatures of habit. One unfortunate habit is to keep filling our schedules with more and more things to do. Our society champions the doers “If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.” Perhaps a saner attitude in a world gone mad with the “doing” is to ask, “Is this really necessary to do?”
All too often when I speak with stressed business owners they are looking for ways to increase productivity, to find that magic bullet that will let them do more within a time frame that is already stressed to the limit.
There is an antidote to the ‘To Do’ list mentality, which never seems to get done anyway. Next to my ‘To Do’ list, I keep a ‘Stop Doing’ list –things I mindlessly do out of habit because somewhere along the way they were on my ‘To Do’ list.
The list got started one day when I stopped taking the fastest route to work and opened the time frame to other options.