Thursday, June 27, 2013

Caught up in the urgent (151.4)

When Steven Covey was the organizational guru of the 90s, I had a Franklin Planner & read his 7 Habits book. I learned about his 4 quadrants—important & urgent, important & not urgent, not important & urgent, not urgent & not important. Here’s a great illustration of the activities in each quadrant:

I haven’t had a Franklin Planner since I got a smartphone and Outlook (probably 7 years or so? Maybe longer). And I haven’t been to a time management class for well over a decade.

I don’t need a class. I know what to do. I know, but I don’t apply.

Sounds similar to eating and exercise, when those things are not going well.

Operating from the “important & not urgent” category is obviously the place I need to be working from on a regular basis. Planning, prevention, relationship building, new opportunities, learning, developing.

Lately, and for a long time really, I haven’t been in the quadrant enough. I am so often prisoner of the Tyranny of the Urgent. And, more often than not, in the not important & not urgent corner—where nothing of importance happens.

I believe there are benefits in the lower right quadrant—of course I have to have pleasant activities in my life. I need downtime to recharge.

Time wasters, though, like Facebook or mindless TV aren’t nourishing activities. I have cut back Facebook perusing to almost nothing. I often just get mad & upset when I read people’s political views or their Rainbow Bright lives (which I’ve talked about before). I have been reading more than watching TV lately, but even reading is a mindless escape for me.

I also spend too much mindless time reading articles on Yahoo Finance or reading non work stuff (like blogs or book reviews or whatever else isn't appropriate) while at work (and yes, I write my posts at work. It's an important and not urgent issue that I won't do at home, so I spend an hour a week writing, I'm fine with that). I can argue that the Finance articles are important for my job, but really I’m just killing time because I don’t want to spend time in the important & not urgent category.

So, WHY don’t I want to spend time there? That’s a good question. Part of it, I think, is that I lack confidence to be proactive with our practice. Mark is the financial advisor; I’m his support.

However, he spends almost all of his time in the urgent quadrants.

Part of that is out of his control—he can’t dictate when clients call in or when he gets an email he has to respond to with in depth info.

Part of it is that he’s made that way or that he has operated in the urgent for so long, and he gets a reward from it. (My theory is that he subconsciously like the adrenaline rush that he gets from always being in a hurry; he rarely gives himself enough time to get ready in the morning, so it’s rush rush rush. Which drives me bonkers. I’ve quit nagging him, for the most part. It makes no difference.)

Part of it is that his plate is so full—with work and church obligations (he’s an elder at church and on two key committees that have big stuff going on this summer, and he’s dropped everything else he can drop)—that he just can’t get ahead.

Part of it is that his time at work is limited because of his back. He is limited on how long he can sit, and isn’t really spending enough time at work.

Whatever the reason, he spends little time planning. I have little interaction with him during the day because he’s in the Urgent all day long.

I told him yesterday that we need to start meeting every day for 15 minutes or so, to plan our approach of what we need to do for our clients in the next two months (which includes major investment reallocations that take a lot of time).

Clearly, it is up to me to drive the bus on the planning side.

We have worked together for over 8 years. We do well because we complement each other—we have different skills and talents, and together we make a great team.

I have not been keeping up my end of the team, though. I haven’t been using my strengths like we need me to.


Because I am insecure, not confident in my abilities, afraid I’ll do work and get shot down because it’s not the direction Mark wants to take (this has happened several times over the years, and it rocks my confidence & ticks me off), and because I’m often paralyzed by fear.

Fear of financial failure, fear of me failing, fear of making mistakes, fear of my efforts being pointless and a total waste of time.

I’m writing about this so I can start making changes. I read this stuff and think “This is such bullshit. You’re smart, talented, have good ideas, are capable of SO MUCH MORE than you give yourself credit. Get off your ass and get to work.”

Like Alice in Wonderland sings, “I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”

I have no business putting MY issues of non-action on my husband's lack of planning activities.  That's a martyr attitude, and an excuse.

Time to get rid of that thinking. Time to quit giving myself advice. Time to just freaking do it.

One more thing--all this work stuff is exacerbated by the feeling of being out of control this summer. The days are packed, the weekends are packed, my children are growing at the speed of light, and it’s killing me.  I live in the future way too much—what do I have to do this week, next week, a month from now?  It all makes me feel so powerless, which makes me want to control everything.  I am reading some self-help stuff (my OA books and a book by Wayne Dyer about creating your own reality) and I do stop several times a day for positive affirmations and short meditations.  So I feel like I’m making a wee bit of progress.  I have moments of peace and release.  I just need more of them strung together, until my entire day is peace & release. 


Vickie said...

I live in the future way too much—what do I have to do this week, next week, a month from now? It all makes me feel so powerless, which makes me want to control everything. I am reading some self-help stuff (my OA books and a book by Wayne Dyer about creating your own reality) and I do stop several times a day for positive affirmations and short meditations. So I feel like I’m making a wee bit of progress. I have moments of peace and release. I just need more of them strung together, until my entire day is peace & release.

That part confused me. You are looking ahead at what is coming up, what you need to do to prep. So you are not waiting until it is urgent or the deadline is missed, you are looking ahead. Are you saying you look ahead and are paralyzed?

Laura N said...

I think so, yes. it's the sheer volume of what's on the calendar. I sometimes feel like I'm on a runaway train. I handle this some days better than others. I obviously wasn't processing it successfully when I wrote the post.

And living in the moment is challenging when my mind is constantly looking ahead at what I need to do. Planning ahead & being in the moment while planning--is just fine. It's the ruminating on future events that gets me. I'm working on it.

Vickie said...

You have probably heard me say this before - when I started, I was buried.

So many things I had to do, straighten, finish, let time run out on, before I felt like my life would be my own.

Huge volunteer obligations. I had to finish and time had to run out on my "term".

Clutter, clean out (massive)

Things like photo albums (that was a biggie for me, spanned many, many years). And I am not talking about fancy. Just needed to take care of piles of negatives and prints.

Getting my weight off

Figure out how to take care of things with my husband, instead of thinking I was stuck with things/behaviors until he died. That is honestly what I thought. And it impacted me hugely.

Taking care of all my secondary conditions which ended up involving two surgeries and a lot of physical therapy.

And all of that was looking at the fact that I still had normal daily things going on. My world did not stop while I took care of things that had back logged because I did not take care of them while I should.

So, yes I understand feeling buried and feeling paralyzed.

And you might not be talking about back log. You might just be talking about the normal daily life piece.

Boundaries. Priorities. How/if you let other people's actions and decisions impact your world/life.

Proactive stance and life.

At its most basic level this is YOUR food, exercise, water, sleep.

Then you decide what else you are going to let into your life, time.

I had a lot I had to finish, to get to that point.

I just did them, one at a time, with the goal of being able to live MY LIFE.