The first “End of Summer” post was devoted to a few reflections on my life in the last year – areas that have gone well, and others where I think I could use some more improvement.
One of the hard things about the “more improvement” areas is that I often feel like I’m working pretty damn hard as it is. When you see other people seem to have it “figured out” it makes you wonder if I’m getting something wrong. Of course I have a propensity for being a bit too hard on myself, and you probably do too, which means that in some cases I’m just not being patient enough to see my hard work pay off.
But in other instances, perhaps there is something more fundamental at play – something more of an issue of structure or my general approach. Like I said last week, perhaps there’s a “one in the many” of achievement.
In their book “The One Thing”, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan provide an approach they call the “focusing question”. It’s nothing particularly new, and sort of falls in line with the general 80/20 approach to things, but they have a way of phrasing gives a fresh angle.
What Keller and Papasan suggest (and I’m paraphrasing here) is that in every area of your life you should ask: What one thing can I do that would make everything else in this area easier or unnecessary?
The hard thing seems to be spotting this one thing. For instance, one theme that runs through a lot of my last post is that I don’t have enough stress-free time in my life. Now there are a lot of things I could do to improve this. I could:
- Get better at saying “no”.
- Cut down on my current commitments.
- Use my time more efficiently.
- Keep more on top of my task management system.
- Hire a personal assistant.
- Hire cleaners.
. . . you get the idea. You see, these are all things I should do. But is there a one thing here?
This is a real question for me. My “gut” tells me that hiring some part-time help isn’t far off the mark. But perhaps the answer is something at a bit more of a meta-level . . . something along the lines of: “Create this habit: Choose the tasks that only I can do, that are essential for achieving what’s important to me, and either automating or delegating everything else.”
Anyway it’s still up in the air for me. But I can tell you one thing: simply making the list above and thinking about it is more enlightening than I expected. It feels as though I’m consciously practicing a task that highly successful people do automatically. It doesn’t solidify the answer for me, but gives me some direction. What are your thoughts?