If there is one thing I hate about my daily habits, it’s being late. I hate to be late- for anything! But somehow, in the name of productivity I guess, I manage to cut almost every appointment so close that I end up either rushing to make it on time, or late. The only thing worse is missing a meeting altogether. In either case, this habit is unprofessional, demoralizing (for the people we’re meeting and ourselves) and demotivating. Why do we do this and how can it be overcome once and for all?
Ultra-productive people are not late – or even close to it. They maintain control over their daily habits and schedules. They are professionals. So why do we (translated “I” since I don’t want to think I’m the only one willing to admit to this habit) insist on pushing the limits of our personal capabilities to the point of near madness when the results are almost always counterproductive? For me it’s a faulty mindset that serving more clients means more productivity, at almost any cost. After all, the more people I serve, the more phone calls and commitments I make, the more productive I am, right? Not so …
What we often think of as productive is usually just seductive. Being tricked by our subconscious into believing that we’re getting more done is dangerous. Successful people learn how to recognize this thinking for what it is and capture opportunities to be intentional. Becoming thus aware of how we think and behave is the beginning of true success. It’s going “pro”. That’s where true productivity begins and our amateur lives end.
Steven Pressfield notes in his compelling book Turning Pro; “What we get when we turn pro is, we find our power. We find our will and our voice and we find our self-respect. We become who we always were but had, until then, been afraid to embrace and live out.” What frustrates me the most about rushing is the idea that I’m not behaving like a professional. I’m not only compromising a sacred trust granted by my clients but worse, compromising my own personal value of integrity. It piles up and causes a lot of unnecessary stress.
To turn the corner on this and any other counterproductive habit, here are three practices that will precipitate change:
- Consider that being professional means giving your best to your clients, customers and yourself. This is called awareness. And awareness is always the beginning of life change – no exceptions! Awareness gives us permission to be kind to ourselves and build in time for rest and recovery. It’s the key that unlocks the door to self-discipline and self-control.
- Track your behavior. Author Marshall Goldsmith, in his book Triggers, Creating Behavior That Lasts, Becoming the Person You Want to be, suggests the use of a daily questions list. He doesn’t suggest traditional questions like “Did I rest?” or “Was I on time?” but rather, adding the phrase “Did I do my best to …” in front of every question. Example: “Did I do my best to allow enough time for preparation and rest before each meeting today?” This daily habit is a powerful road to awareness and personal change.
- Finally, know and own your personal core values. What is most meaningful to you? What are your non-negotiables? Finding out what you live for is priceless! It is the source of meaning in our lives and provides an inner compass for sound decision making throughout our busy days.
Is it time for you to turn “pro”? It is for me. No more rushing!