Trade Urgency for Intentionality

Society moves at a lightning pace.  Busy is the “in-thing”, and it is going to steal your awesomeness.  Busy-ness is unfocused productivity.  Doing a lot of the wrong things doesn’t make you effective or productive.  The goal, after all, is to have the power to achieve your awesomeness whatever it may be (insert stop killing your dream), and still be happy.  Stephen Covey illustrated the importantance classifying tasks in a simple manner and knowing how to protect your time from wasteful, non productive things.  His quadrants:

English: Mount Rainier

English: Mount Rainier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Urgent/Imporant: crying baby, kitchen fire, etc.

2. Not Urgent/Imporant: exercise, planning, etc. (this is where your awesomeness lives)

3. Urgent/Not Important: interruptions, calls

4. Not Urgent/Not Important: Busy work, time wasters.
Living intentionally isn’t about blocking out interruptions or never wasting time.  Words with friends, crossword puzzles, and farmville are not wasting  time if you are choosing do these things rather than doing them at the expense of things that matter to your awesome.  There is no magic bullet here.  Every once in a while, you have to get back to basics, and evaluate your path.  Pay attention to these 3 simple things to assess your ability to focus and play in the urgent zone.

1. Define your Awesome:  What are you trying to accomplish.  Thinking with “the end in mind”, what is “the end”?.  Without this, you are wandering around aimlessly and everything will seem urgent.

2.  Awareness of where your time and focus is being spent:  Once you have defined your goals, you have a guiding light toward where the majority of your time and focus should be spent. You must be willing and able to evaluate your time and focus.  If this seems foreign to you, seek some coaching from a personal coach.  The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, The Effective Executive, and Getting Things Done, are great places to start.  They provide classic tools for managing your actions.  How much of your bucket is full of quadrant 2 activities? These are the things that will get you to your awesome.

3.  Making adjustments:  The thing about YOU becomming awesome is that you are blazing your own trail.  Sometimes a seemingly perfect path ends at a cliff and you must turn around and find another way forward.  You may feel trapped on your current path.  Your bucket may be filled with Job pressure, kids’ activities, traffic, ailing relatives, etc. Recognizing these things is only the start.  A small percentage of people get to this point, an even smaller percentage do something about it.  Doing something about it may be as simple as car pooling to soccer practice with anoother parent.  This will open some time for you to work on quadrant two activities.
 Relentless forward movement, however small, toward a defined goal, has a remarkable way of leading to success and accomplishment.
Urgency and focus grow and decline inversely.  Staying ahead of deadlines and intentionally protecting your focus time will keep more of the important things in quadrant 2.  You will get more done at a higher level.  Perfection is not the goal.  You define the goal, now do it!

Pumpkin Pie Economics: an absurd tale of finiteness

As the holidays start to come upon us, I am getting prepared with my baking supplies.  One of my favorite treats of the holidays is a good old fashioned pumpkin pie. While I like the spice, smell, and flavor of pumpkin pie, I absolutely love the memories and emotions unlocked by the experience of the holidays that have always had pumpkin pie.  This year, the pie has a new element; economics.  How do I go from holiday treats to economics??? You must not know me well.

Charlie made a Pumpkin Pie for Halloween.

Charlie made a Pumpkin Pie for Halloween. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a self proclaimed “arm chair economist”, I am constantly engaged and drawn into the political debate of the day.  ObamaCare and debt ceiling are the debate of the day, but I’m sure more will come. As every day passes, and more government spending reaches deeper into my wallet, the growing concern is that too many people don’t understand basic economics.  By basic economics, I am referring to using a a pumpkin pie as our text book. Here is the basic lesson:
1.  The pie is 10 inches in diameter
2.  We have a knife and a package of plates
3.  I baked the pie and cut a 3 inch piece for myself as this is my favorite pie and I did all the work.
4.  The rest of the pie is cut into 2 inch pieces ( with a 1 inch piece to feed the baby).
5. By my math (a child of California public schools in the 1990s) that’s 5 pieces of varying size
The pie is finite.  That means it is 10 inches now matter how we slice it.  Right now I can happily feed 5 of us with pie.  If we have an unexpected guest, the pieces get smaller.  Maybe it’s unfair that I get such a larger piece.  After all, I am privileged enough to have the ability to work to make the pie, maybe I shouldn’t flaunt that by eating a larger piece than everyone else.  Maybe what would be more fair is to take my 3 inch piece and create another smaller 1 inch piece for one of the smaller children.  The problem now is that this is starting to get complicated.  I think what I would recommend at this point would be to bring in a “pie” expert from the local office of weights and measures.  The “fee” (code word for tax) is 3 inches of pumpkin pie.
The government agent will come in to my home and deem what is fair.  They always know what’s best and fair for my family.
He gets his 3 inch piece first, then will divvy the remaining 7 inches.  In an effort to be impartial, he “asks” (government code for demand) that we utilize a special government approved pie pan which is actually 9 inches and trash the other 1 inch of pumpkin pie filling.  Apparently 3 years ago a  house burnt down because the extra inch caused too much heat.  Now I have to buy a 9 inch pan for the government pumpkin pie.  The cost of the pan is  a little more because it’s government regulated and in high demand because of the recent regulatory changes.  The fee for the new pan is 2 inches of pumpkin pie.  So now that I’ve handled that, I have the government agent coming over to help assist the division of the 5 inches of remaining pie.  At least we know this will be fair.  I almost forgot to mention that the government union won’t let him work on holidays.  He is pretty booked up on the days around the holidays.  They are only allowed to hire a certain amount of agents at the office of weights and measures so they are pretty over worked. They have availability about 2 weeks before Christmas, so I can have the pie cut up and stored frozen for me.  Of course, this costs 2 inches of pie as well…
Happy Holidays!