When I was in the first grade I broke my right hand on the playground just at the time we were learning to write. So, even though I’m right handed – I had to learn to write with my left hand.
It was hard at first, but with time and dedication – I actually learned to write left handed.
As my right hand healed, it was only natural to learn to write with it as well. For a while, I was able to write equally well with either hand. But over time, I stopped using my left hand more and more – and eventually, lost the things I had learned and practiced.
Now, since I’m naturally a morning person – and since I’ve been taught for years that we should tackle our most important things during our best hours of the day, I developed a habit of doing important things early in the day – and using my afternoons for the more mundane things in my schedule.
My mornings have been fun, exciting, creative, and rewarding; my afternoons, not so much. With only a few exceptions, they seemed to drag – filled with less and less meaningful work – and eventually I became convinced that I was really only effective for a few hours early in the day.
My morning schedule became more and more crowded with the things that mattered – things I was passionate to pursue; but I was so time constrained that I began saying “no” to more and more meaningful things.
Then I realized that I had conceded more than half my day to mundane, mostly meaningless activity. I was spending the majority of my time on things that didn’t matter because I had convinced myself I was only effective early in the day. I wasn’t ineffective because I was working less, but because I had embraced a lie – a pattern of thinking that was making me less effective.
Like learning to write with my left hand, developing the focus, energy, and ability to be near the top of my game all through the day, is not easy. But the prospect of more than doubling my capacity for meaningful work makes shifting my mindset here a no-brainer.
And if I’m already non productive during much of my day, I’ve really got nothing to lose. I have the freedom to try a wide variety of tools or techniques to reclaim this most precious commodity of time.
What might the ROI be if we were to invest in a short nap each day? Author and virtual mentor, Michael Hyatt has been a public proponent of daily naps for some time and even published a surprising list of famous people that napped regularly. Writer and speaker, Juliet Funt is a proponent of “whitespace.” What if we replaced the mundane things we’ve embraced with intentional whitespace?
How might our diet and exercise regimen change our alertness in the afternoon and early evenings? How about intentionally changing our sleep patterns?
But wait – what will happen to all those mundane, less meaningful things if I suddenly commit my entire day to game changing actions and projects? Certainly, some of them will still need to be done. But I’d much rather say “no” to the mundane than the meaningful.
What meaningful projects have fallen victim to the mundane in your day? What patterns of thinking might be holding you back?