My day started out completely unfocused and demotivated. It felt like walking through six-inches of mud in high top tennis shoes. (Yes, I have done that.) I would like to blame it on daylight savings, but that would be deflecting the truth of the choices I made leading up to this morning. As I struggled to get focused and find a rhythm, I finally paused work and forced myself to exercise for an hour. I did not have to think much do that activity, and it was on my list to do for the day.
I would like to say I rebounded with vigor and had the most productive day in weeks. That would be wrong. I was able to regain some focus and write this blog. You can be the judge of the value of it.
This experience did lead me to think about how I spend my time. I was reminded of the Time Management Matrix I learned from reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey 25 years ago. The framework is useful for analyzing time in relation to what we do.
Looking through this lens, ideally, we want to spend most of our time in the Focused Productivity quadrant. This is doing activities that are important but not urgent. For me today that was exercising, writing a blog, sending out invoices, reviewing a contract, taking my son to the airport, having dinner with the family, and playing ping pong with a friend. Yes, I did spend plenty of time today in the other three quadrants. I got sucked into a text ding, I zoned out several times, and I did an online search for the definition of productivity which was unproductive.
So, when we are unfocused, how do we lead ourselves well to get back on track? For me, it was just pausing and asking myself, “What is really important today?” Once I stopped and asked myself this question, the answers became clearer. I was able to salvage this day that could have left me looking aimlessly at my mud-filled high top tennis shoes.