by Marcia Dority Baker
[Today’s Tuesday Reading is from Marcia Dority Baker, Leadership Coach at MOR Associates. Marcia may be reached at email@example.com.]
“Success doesn’t come from what you do occasionally, it comes from what you do consistently.” Marie Forleo
Have you noticed where we are in the calendar? It’s almost halfway through 2022, and the cusp of the summer solstice, the day with the longest amount of light in the Northern Hemisphere. Just as there is a rhythm to nature, we too can practice consistency in our lives. I find that when things seem out-of-sync, it’s time to review my commitments and calendar(s). One of the MOR practices we learn early in the leadership program is determining the immediate versus the important. A favorite visual of this principle is the Eisenhower Matrix:
To help you determine where something should go in the matrix, get out your calendar(s). With a pen/pencil and paper (or laptop), list out all your commitments by type (family, work, school, community, exercise/other) and order of importance to you AND when that commitment is due or to be completed (end-of-semester or project deadline). Listing the things you are committed to along with due dates can help alleviate anxiety by providing a visual to work from. Be honest with yourself – are these things you “should” be doing right now? Are there things that others could do (“Hello delegation my old friend”). And most importantly, do you need to do all these things at this time? By listing your commitments in order of importance, it may show areas that are not a priority right now. The next step to this list is to include the time necessary to complete the commitments as this allows you to use block scheduling for efficiency.
As we move into the second half of the year, let’s commit to being present and consistent in our practices. I have found the following actions provide balance and consistency in an uncertain world.
1. Be purposeful with what you spend time on. We are human beings, not human doings. Our time is valuable, so use it wisely. It is better to be selective on what one focuses on than to waste time and energy trying to do everything. Recall – if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.
2. Say “no” politely. We all have more things to do than time to do it. But…do we really need to keep doing all the things if we want to encourage new ideas? At some point, we need to stop doing or supporting all the things and/or services we have enabled. We cannot do it all, hard stop. This is not fair but it’s accurate. As an example of how to say “no,” consider the framework: “Yes, No, Yes” in the following statement: “I appreciate you thinking of me for this project but I do not have time on my calendar to give it the attention it needs. Would you like me to suggest other people who may be available?”
3. Don’t procrastinate. The cool thing about being a human being is free will. Each of us can decide what to focus on; the immediate versus the important. When life seems out of balance, it can be a challenge to do anything! While in graduate school, I lived by the wise quote attributed to Desmund Tutu; “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” This practical advice of doing a small thing consistently to accomplish big things has become a mantra. If you don’t feel like doing something, acknowledge that feeling and then go do something else. This could be a walk around the block, calling a colleague to check in on a project, or to follow-up on an action item. Pick something. A get-started mindset will ripple through your day.
4. Eliminate distractions. Easier said than done! Recall the practice of defensive calendaring, blocking the time for important work you need to do; are you still using it? I can and do get distracted by the immediate instead of focusing on the important. Purposely putting time on your calendar to do the work of being a leader can help eliminate distractions. As human beings we have to decide to not focus on distractions including the buzzing, chimes, and clicks of technology. Turn off the channels that cause a squirrel moment when you need to focus. Focus on commitments to provide clarity on what to focus on for the immediate to build towards anticipated long-term success.
Consistency beats intensity. It’s the regular practices that become the positive habits we want to build into our day.
This Week’s Survey
Which of the following do you find most valuable to practice consistently?
|From Last Week
Last week, we asked: What is your biggest opportunity regarding your habits?
For the vast majority of us in those first two categories, the biggest opportunity is in making change, whether that be initially creating it or sustaining it over time. When we think about making that change, consider the cue-routine-reward habit loops of both yourself and others, and how to best take initiative to disrupt those loops.
Previous post on Consistency beats Intensity for Trail Sisters in March 2022.