First, I want to share with anyone who hasn’t heard. On Thursday it was announced that Nashville was awarded a professional soccer franchise with the United Soccer League. I’m grateful to be part of the ownership group that was awarded that franchise. It’s exciting for Nashville.
Ok, back to the topic we started on last week, getting stuff done. These tips are really about ways to mentally deal with the challenge of getting a high volume of work done without being overwhelmed. They aren’t so much life hacks or productivity tools.
Last week I talked about negotiating the Iron Triangle. This week, I want to talk about the natural cycle of activity that throws people off. I call it Storm and Settle.
A common frustration that I find people encountering who are trying to do a lot of things is that they can’t “find a balance.” Usually when we dig into what they are after in that conversation, what they really want is consistency and predictability to their life and their activities. I understand this desire, as a technical person I love consistency and predictability. However I have found that business (and busyness) seems to follow patterns of nature more than software patterns.
Maybe some have achieved it, but I have never been able to avoid the seasonality and weather patterns of business. There are some times of year that are really intense, and some times of year that aren’t. Some weeks are so packed that you can’t even see straight because you’re just running from event to event, and some weeks your schedule is wide open. This pattern of Storming and Settling is a rhythm that I believe we have to make peace with.
During the storm, you may not be able to exercise as much as you like, or keep your house as clean as normal, or keep a watchful eye on your budget like you usually do. It’s just not reasonable… you’re in the middle of a storm and things are flying around. But the storm won’t last forever. There will come a time when it settles, and you can recalibrate and recover.
One tactic you can have to ensure you are managing your settling time correctly is to reserve important appointments with yourself regularly to ensure that you find those settling moments on the calendar and take care of yourself. For me, that looks something like the following:
- Weekly cleanup of email, usually on Sunday.
- Twice a month review of budget. Once high level, once deep dive.
- One weekend day a month for cleanup of all systems (they all get messy after a while, and I always find important things in text messages, LinkedIn messages, Evernote, Asana etc.)
- Committed exercise at least once a week (for storms) and four times a week ideally.
- Quarterly trips away from home with Rachel, even if it’s only for 48 hours.
- Twice a year planning sessions with Rachel of our calendar, budget and goals.
- One family trip and one couple’s trip a year that are at least four days, hopefully longer.
I carry this model into the work environment as well. Committing to regular touch points with my business partners to get aligned and maintain our relationship. When we go too long without these it’s obvious.
The magic of these “settle commitments” is that they give me peace when I’m in the storm. I always know that the storm is just temporary and that a moment of settling is around the corner. I know this because I’ve committed to it. I can actually enjoy the storm, knowing it represents a burst of progress towards my goals, without being overwhelmed by it.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, you can’t avoid (or even control) the storms, but there is always an opportunity to settle. Focus on managing that settling time, and you will ride the rhythm of busyness in an elegant way and get a lot done at the same time.