Ever get that feeling that no matter how much you do, there is always a continuing onslaught of things you need to get done?
You had dreams, ideas, things you wanted to try out, and business concepts you know would put cash into your bank account…If only you could get round to doing them you would totally rock your goals!
But then, nothing ever changes. Just as you think you’ve got one time-draining activity out of the way, something else comes along to take its place. It’s almost as if the harder you work and the faster you climb, the steeper the hill gets.
Maybe you can relate to the idea of being on a treadmill at the gym. Each time you have a little success, someone hits the incline button to make you run at a steeper angle! I remember a busy mom describing this as one of her recurring nightmares.
Something’s Got To Give!
If you’re in this situation, it’s not your fault. You got here because you had the best of intentions.
The reality is, though, the thinking that got you onto this treadmill is not the same thinking that will help you get off of it.
Thinking that you just need to get more stuff done, work harder, or work smarter is still treadmill thinking. It’s not going to fundamentally change anything. All that happens if you apply this logic is that you end up working harder, but still having more stuff come in to fill those precious little gaps in your schedule.
Real change comes from a new approach. Getting off the treadmill depends on starting from somewhere else – away from the treadmill – and applying a new logic.
Step Away From The Treadmill!
You see, the treadmill mentality focuses on dealing with incoming demands and getting through a to-do list. What you need to do to break free of the treadmill is start from:
- what you really want out of your life, and
- how you want to spend your time.
The first item – what you want out of your life – is fairly straightforward. For most movers and shakers, they’ve got this pretty well defined from the material through to their relationships and their inner world. I’m going to assume you know what you want.
What is normally overlooked, though, is the second thing: how you want to spend your time.
“We live in an age where hard work and sacrifice are the myths of success.”
The truth is, this is just a paradigm, a way of thinking and seeing the world. However you see the world determines the rules you allow yourself to play by. If you think having what you want has to be hard work, guess what? It will be!
By contrast, if your view of the world is that you can have your life the way you want it, and that you just need to be a bit savvy around how you go about it, you’re playing a whole different game. One in which you open up the possibility that achieving your goals is fun, interesting and taps in to you doing what lights you up…as part of the process, not just the end game.
How To Eliminate The Treadmill And Still Function In The ‘To-Do List World’
“This is all very well,” you may be thinking. “Throwing away the to-do list, and just do what I feel like. But I have responsibilities: a job to do, a business to run.”
Quite right! I agree entirely, so let me clarify something, and then give you a method that you can use to operate in the ‘real world’.
Firstly, this isn’t about shirking your responsibilities. There are still going to be things that you need to spend time doing. However, if you start from the premise that you should only do what you do best, and can re-delegate or outsource or swap with someone to get rid of the things that are frustrating you, then so much the better.
The Three Bubble Approach
Here’s the method to get real-world results, whilst refusing to get on the treadmill. Three bubbles a day keeps the treadmill away!
- Decide on what you really want out of each area of your life. Maybe set a goal for your work, a goal for your relationships, one for your family and one for your health and/or spirituality. Make sure you write these down somewhere you can keep referring back to them.
- Each week spend some time working on these things. Let’s use the work category as an example. Imagine your goal is to get more clients. Before you start your normal work or open you emails, take a piece of paper and write on it what you want to achieve that day in terms of finding more clients. It may be that you want to call up some old contacts, or send out an email to your list, or write a few letters to prospects. Whatever it is, put one or two items on the sheet of paper in bubbles around the goal “get more clients”.
- Now look at everything else you need to make happen that week, and decide what category they fit into: maybe managing staff, maybe delivering presentations, maybe renewing your car insurance. Whatever they are, they fit into a category. Write those on the piece of paper too, and see what category you can assign them to.
- Here’s the tough part. Each day you want to limit yourself to three categories at the most: this is where the three bubbles comes from in the method name.
- You see, you lose so much time and momentum by constantly switching your focus and you want to minimize this. Only working on two or three categories a day seriously amps up your ability to be productive and stay in your flow. Select your categories for today now. One of these categories should include that first thing you chose that you really wanted to achieve, but probably wasn’t already on your ‘treadmill list’.
- Each day, you do the same thing: only ever working on two or three categories (you can pick different ones each day). Sure, there may be a number of tasks in one category, so it’s OK to plug through each of those (just have them on spokes that come out of the category bubble, like a mind map).
The key thing to remember is there is a magic that happens when you apply all your thinking and attention to just one area you want to crack.
Imagine What Might Be Possible For You!
If you follow this method, what you’ll end up doing is making incremental progress on only the things that matter to you – and not the things that just take up your time. Sure, you may get the odd thing that takes you off track that you need to respond to, but as long as you have this bubble diagram of your main categories for the day, you can always have traction on the things that are important.
What’s more, you will always remember the things that are meaningful and important to the direction you want to go in. If getting more clients is important, by using this method there is no way you are going to miss or forget about an opportunity to make some progress in this area. You will flat out get this done!
This is a million miles away from the treadmill to-do list you may be using at the moment. What you can probably see already is that it takes the overwhelm out of making progress on something that is important to you, whilst still juggling the other stuff that needs doing. Focusing on just your elected categories for the day allows you to park the others, guilt-free, until their allocated day.
It’s amazing how freeing this is. Just try it and see!
What Categories Are You Going To Work On Today?
OK, so over to you now. What categories are you going to select to work on today? Share in the comments below. It is super motivating to share, and see how others are applying these insights.