In the previous article, I posed a question: “What will you subtract this year?”
Apparently, it hit a nerve, as it was one of the most-read articles to date. It was all about ways to better use time – to free up time for the things that matter most to you, personally and professionally.
If you have not read that article, take a moment and do so now…before the next distraction or demand hits.
In this article, I want to address the phase that comes after subtraction: What do you need to add?
Have you ever had a marathon office cleaning session, where you managed to clear your desk? It felt great, right? You could sit down to work with a clear mind. That usually lasts about…one day, or for some, one hour.
Why is this?
The return of overwhelm comes because there is no process for preventing it.
Step 1 was Subtraction – Declutter those things that adversely impact your time.
Step 2 is Addition – Determine focus and create a process that keeps you from returning to overwhelm.
Here is a personal example.
Several years ago, I was a successful executive. I also owned and operated several side ventures and a good amount of real estate. On the wheel of life, “Work” was taking over, which is common among executives. But with so much focus on work, as you would surmise, other areas began to suffer.
After a wakeup call with regard to my health, I realized I needed to declutter some parts of my life to create greater margin, which I did.
But that wasn’t enough.
Fill the void.
Here is a fact of life: Voids will be filled.
That empty spot on your desk; the open calendar space; that time you decided to use for exercise…these will all be filled.
The question is: Who or what will fill the void?
Jim Rohn said it well: “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan.”
This is why Step 2 is just as important as Step 1.
Step 1 creates margin.
Step 2 determines who or what fills it.
I had managed to create margin, which is both an accomplishment…and a considerable adjustment.
I quickly realized I had to take another step – the step of intentionally filling it.
I determined my three main priorities and created boundaries on time spent working, and scheduled in time for exercise, reading, and being out in nature to fill those spots previously used for work. My calendar was full, but full of very purposeful commitments to each area of life.
“Wait a minute!” you may be thinking. “First you advocate subtracting to create margin, and now you’re refilling the margin?”
Only this time, I did it with great intention. And that has made all the difference.
It has provided a measure of balance in other areas of life, and contrary to what you might think, business and career have improved with the broader focus to all areas and less time in just work. In fact, I am now a healthier and more energetic leader than I was before.
No matter your position in leadership, I urge you to take these two steps. As a leader, you must be strong for your team, and energetically, you set the pace. Addressing all areas and not just one will help you be a more effective leader.
For Step 2, review your wheel of life.
Honestly assess each area as I do with my coaching clients to determine where adjustments need to be made.
- Spiritual Health
- Personal Development
- Physical Health
- Business and Career
Where do you need to add?
Where do you need to subtract?
Create margin, then fill it intentionally. Be the best leader you can be.
Dave Ferguson is “The Leaders’ Coach”, an internationally recognized executive leadership coach, speaker, facilitator, and author. Are you interested in talking to Dave about coaching or having Dave speak to inspire and motivate your team? “ASK COACH DAVE” at 704-907-0171 or at Dave@AskCoachDave.com.