The Being & The Doing EPISODE 5:
A Focus on Getting Stuff Done
In an always-on world, there are endless distractions inside our minds and all around us. With too much to do and competing priorities, it’s easy to stop paying attention to the most important things that need to get done. In this episode Laurel shares the truth about time management.
HIGHLIGHTS YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS
- A plain and simple fact 1:45
- Why we ignore what’s most important 2:46
- A big conversation that’s needed 5:32
- An important question for the start of the day 9:21
- This episode’s homework 11:28
* A full transcript is available below on this page.
Here’s the link to the page for your Being & Doing homework. It includes a little guide with some ideas about making time for both action and awareness. Download it HERE. When you grab it you will also get my weekly tips about living life the mindful way.
Here’s a blog about how to be less distracted by other people’s priorities
Curious about the skillset approach to well-being? Check out the Well-being By Design model
THIS EPISODE’S HOMEWORK
Something to think about:
What is one important thing that never gets enough of my attention?
What is the cost of ignoring that thing?
Something to try:
Pause periodically in your day and ask yourself What am I doing right now?
This question asks you to pay attention to how you are spending your time right now and whether what you are doing is a good reflection of your current priorities. Asking “what I am doing right now” helps you make a more conscious choice about putting your time and energy into the most important things first.
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CREDITS: The Being & The Doing podcast is produced by Neela Bell. Voiceovers by Jason Harris. Music is GoodMorning Sunshine by Yoav Alyagon and Firefly by Scott Buckley.
Full Transcript of this Show
Intro: Welcome to The Being and The Doing, a podcast about well-being and the practices that help us have more calm, focus, purpose, and presence in our busy lives. Here’s your host, author and life coach, Laurel Vespi.
Laurel: Hey, lovely ones welcome to Episode 5 of The Being and The Doing. Thanks so much for taking the time to tune in with me today. In today’s show, I am going to share another one of the cornerstone skill sets of well-being from my ‘well-being by Design’ model. Today, it’s all about the skills of being able to focus and get the most important things done.
Back in Episode 2, I shared about this idea of a skill set based model of well-being and in Episode 3, it was all about creating the habit of pause and in Episode 4, it was about the skill sets around finding calm in the midst of chaos. And so today it’s about being able to focus and get the most important things done. Here’s the thing, your sense of well-being is really impacted by the satisfaction or dissatisfaction that you feel about how you’re managing the stuff in your life, all that stuff that needs to get done.
You know all that talk about ‘being’ and how we show up and how we are in the moment and what’s happening right now is fine and we also have to get stuff done. So today we’re really thinking about the getting stuff done, a lot about the ‘doing’ today.
So let’s start with a plain and simple fact; there are 24 hours in a day, period. 24 hours, 1440 minutes, no more, no less, that’s it, 24 hours. With all of our scientific advances, we have not yet figured out how to add more time into the day even if we want to. You cannot organize yourself into more time. There is no system, no special incantation to recite; no magic potion to swallow that gives you more than 24 hours. That’s it. That’s all, 24 hours.
So it becomes really critical that we use those 24 hours in the most conscious and intentional way. Except, often we are trading many of those hours and minutes doing tasks or activities that are most definitely not the most important things, why do we do that?
Well, first, you probably feel like there is just too much to do. There are competing priorities, right? There are the priorities that you have and there are your family priorities and there are work priorities and it’s hard to say no to things so we try to chip away at everything, all those priorities and then nothing really gets completely done.
So secondly, in an always-on world, always plugged in, always something to do, there are endless, endless distractions inside our minds and all around us. So, with too much to do and those darn competing priorities, it’s easy, isn’t it, to stop paying attention to the most important things including our own self care? So even when we know what the true priority is, there is always something saying: “Hey, pay attention to me instead. Check your email, what’s happening on social media? Gee, I really don’t like doing this thing that I have to do right now so let’s do something else instead. Yay! The new season of XYZ is now on Netflix.”
Sounds familiar? Always some sort of distraction there to pull us away from the most important priorities and then besides all of that, that’s going on in your head, there are people around us saying: “Hey, I want this, I need this now.” So we’re living in this epidemic of distraction. It’s no wonder that it’s hard to focus on the most important things.
I think it makes sense from a well-being perspective to build the skills that help us figure out what’s most important, what are my priorities? And then we can manage the distraction so we can get those priorities done, paid attention to, without feeling overwhelmed and off task.
And I think this is like a really big conversation that you have to have with yourself about priorities because often what rises to the top of our to-do list is simply today’s crisis. The most important things get pushed aside so that we pay attention to the loudest thing. Like, think about self-care. Okay, so we all know that our personal self-care like paying attention to things that allow us to function at our physical and mental and emotional best is really important.
This is not news, this is not earth shattering. We know this and yet we allow it to slide and sometimes we even feel guilty.
We feel guilty that we’re taking the time for ourselves when there are just so many other things that need to be done. The truth is you make time for your mental and physical well-being now or you’re going to have to make time for illness later. It’s just cause and effect. You can only ignore yourself care for so long and then the chickens are going to come home to roost, that’s the way it is. Maybe you’re going to be lucky and those chickens don’t come home to roost for a while, but eventually, they’re going to come home and say: “See, look at those choices you didn’t make before, now pay up.”
But you know, it’s not only about self-care, it’s also about our relationships. I think it’s kind of sad, it’s easy to take them for granted because we have this trust in our relationships that they can withstand us not paying attention to them, even though that’s not really true. Many people would probably say my family is the most important thing but then, the to-do list eats into the quality and the amount of time that they devote to them. Other priorities take the place of meaningful conversations or present moment attention.
Just giving someone your full attention or even doing certain things because you know, I have this thing I have to do at work or whatever it is. We trade that time for the relationships that we say are most important; it’s kind of a bit of a rant, wasn’t it?
You know, in next week’s episode, I’m going to expand on this idea of what’s important and how it can inform our choices day by day. So you might want to tune in next week about that.
It isn’t just about the big stuff, you know, the big stuff that is really important. On your list of things that you need to do on any given day, some things are more important than others and we don’t even take care of those first. So we don’t pay attention to the most important things, they get the short end of the stick. But even on that list of all that other stuff that’s on your to-do list, we don’t necessarily pay attention to what really is the priority stuff.
Now, maybe that’s because they’re like the yuckier task, the things we don’t really want to do or grow a little bored or whatever, things that are probably less of a priority, actually get our attention. So we use other things on our to-do list to procrastinate from the thing that really is a greater priority. Do you ever do that? I know I do that sometimes.
Asking what the number one priority is today can be a really great way to consciously create some focus about how it is that you’re going to spend your time.
And you have to keep in mind that everything cannot be number one. So if you decide in the morning what the number one priority is and that gets your attention until it’s completed, then you can go on to something else that now becomes number one on your list. Because here’s the thing, if you cannot name the number one priority of the day, you’re hooped because all those other things are going to come rushing in to fill the space.
There’s lots of juicy stuff in this group of skills of how to set priorities. You know, how do I decide what is number one? Either number one in this just list of tasks I have to do or how do I know my most important priorities in life? How do I hold my attention on a task? How do I manage those distractions, whether the distractions that are coming from inside my head or the distractions from all the people around me, the interruptions that come?
You know, there are skills around, how to say no. I hear that all the time: “Oh, I just can’t say no” and when we can’t say no, then there are no boundaries and when there are no boundaries, well, it just becomes a free-for-all. And of course, there are skills around, how to be productive. Like, how do I be the most efficient and productive that I can be with really only 24 hours that there are?
So, stay tuned for some other podcasts that we’re going to dive into those ‘how to’ kinds of questions. In the meantime, I’m going to leave a link in the show notes to a blog I wrote about ‘how not to be distracted by other people’s priorities’ that you might find interesting. For now, let me leave you with a little ‘being and doing’ homework. And homework is a good thing. The reason why we want to do a little homework is, now you’ve listen to this podcast, maybe it’s piqued your interest. What we want to do is be able to extend that a little bit, have something to think about and something to try.
And something to think about really is the ‘being’ part of things. When we’re thinking about things, we’re reflecting on them, they help to develop our awareness of what’s happening.
And something to try is really the ‘doing’ part of stuff. This is action, this is something to try to perhaps, build a little bit more awareness, perhaps to see where you are on a skill set and I like it too. I encourage you to write it down. There’s something about writing stuff down that makes it real.
So again in the show notes, you’re going to find a link to the little action awareness, something to think about, and something to try as a guide. You can download that, give you a little bit more information about ‘why this is a great way to do homework’ and then it has a little page in it for you to work with. You’ll find that in the show notes, whether you do that or not, just grab a piece of paper.
I also leave the homework in the show notes so that if you don’t write it down now because maybe you’re driving or sitting in the bathtub or wherever you are listening to this podcast, you can always grab the homework off the show notes page.
So here goes, something to think about; what is one important thing that never gets enough of my attention? Follow-up question, what is the cost of ignoring that thing? Because first, it’s the awareness of what is it and second it’s the awareness of what is the cost of that? Because again, cause and effect, chickens coming home to roost. You might ask that question, what’s the one thing that never gets enough of my attention and what will be the chicken that comes home to roost if I continue to ignore it?
Something to try, pause periodically in your day and ask yourself, what am I doing right now? This is a question that asks you to pay attention to how you’re spending your time right now and to sort of make an assessment about whether this is the best use of your time. Remember, 24 hours -1440 minutes. So is what you’re doing, right now, a good reflection of your current priorities? If it is, great, if it’s not, then there’s a shift to, what would be a better use of my time and my energy?
It doesn’t mean that you’re going to stop doing what you’re doing if it’s not a good reflection, but it brings it now into your conscious awareness. Because, when you’re asking, what am I doing right now, it helps you make a more conscious choice about putting that time and that energy into the most important things first.
Something to think about and something to try. Feel free to leave your comments and questions in the show notes or on iTunes. I appreciate you rating the show or sharing it with your friends and family. Next time, I’m going to share some ideas about the well-being skill set of making a difference. Why feeling like we have a positive impact on the people around us, leads to a greater sense of purpose, satisfaction, and ultimately greater well-being. So until then, lovely ones, as always pause, breathe and enjoy your day.
Outro: You’ve been listening to The Being and The Doing with your host, Laurel Vespi. If you liked this episode and think other people would, please subscribe, rate and give a review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Be sure to tune in next week for another conversation about The Being and The Doing. Thanks for listening.