Advertising
Advertising

Mice, Antelopes, and Your To-Do List

Mice, Antelopes, and Your To-Do List
antelope in the distance

    You are a wolf. At your job, you spend much of your day chasing, capturing, and eating field mice. At the end of your busy day, you feel exhausted but strangely unfulfilled. Why? Because the energy required to catch a field mouse is greater than the caloric content of the mouse. You can’t live on a diet of field mice. Trying to do so eventually results in starvation.

    Advertising

    As a wolf, what you really want to eat is antelopes. Antelopes are big. Capturing one might require careful advance planning, cooperation with other wolves, and a full day of intense, focused hunting. Maybe even two or three days. But an antelope, when killed, provides you and your family a royal feast that can sustain you for a week.

    Advertising

    The difference between the value of mice and antelopes is important when we think about our our daily to-do lists. If we spend our days chasing and eating field mice, we will enjoy the satisfaction of busy activity and short-term accomplishment. And we will get nowhere.

    Advertising

    If, on the other hand, we spend our days pursuing antelopes (our most significant, highest payoff projects), we may need to plan better, work smarter, and wait longer to see the positive results of our efforts, but those results will move our organizations and our careers forward in measurable, even quantum ways.

    Advertising

    Are you a mouse hunter, or an antelope hunter?

    “The simple fact is that being busy is easier than not. Responding to each new request, chasing an answer to the latest question, and complaining about overwhelming demands are easier than setting priorities.”

    — Heike Bruch and Sumantra Ghoshal, A Bias For Action

    Rob Crawford, a school administrator who loves baseball and acoustic guitars, writes on productivity and impact at Crawdaddy Cove. He thanks Tom Suddes at For Impact for the idea of the mice-antelopes metaphor.

    More by this author

    My 7 Year-Old Son’s Life List Mice, Antelopes, and Your To-Do List Brain Damage Pill Priorities and Posteriorities

    Trending in Productivity

    1 Read this and stop feeling overwhelmed…for good! 2 There Is More to Life Than  ____________ 3 10 Steps For Success: Applying The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind 4 How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work 5 How to Live up to Your Full Potential and Succeed in Life

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on December 17, 2018

    Read this and stop feeling overwhelmed…for good!

    Read this and stop feeling overwhelmed…for good!

    We live in a time of productivity overload.

    Everywhere you turn are articles and books about how to be more productive, how to squeeze 27 hours of work out of every 24, how to double your work pace, how to do more and more all in the name of someday getting out of the rat race. Well this is about the side effects of those ideas. If we aren’t multitasking, we feel lazy. If we aren’t doing everything, we feel like we’re slacking. We compare ourselves to others who we think are doing more, having more, getting more and achieving more, and it’s driving us crazy. We feel overwhelmed when we think we have too much to do, too much is expected of us, or that a stressor is too much for us to handle. And we respond by lashing out with emotions of anger, irritability, anxiety, doubt and helplessness.

    Advertising

    This season especially is the most stressful time of year. Between the holidays, final exams, family gatherings and general feelings of guilt that it’s the end of the year, it’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking of all the things you still need to get done. But if you use these tips, not only will you get the important stuff done, you’ll keep your sanity while doing it!

      Is this you?

      Change your thought pattern-stop thinking negatively

      When you feel overwhelmed, the first thing you do is start thinking negatively or begin to resent why it’s your responsibility in the first place! The first thing you have to do is to stop! Stop thinking negatively immediately. Instead, focus on the positive. If you’re stuck in traffic, think of how great it is to have some time to yourself. If you’re rushing trying to get things done by a deadline, think how lucky you are to have a purpose and to be working towards it. If you’re stressing about a final exam, think of how fortunate you are to be given the opportunity of higher education. After you’ve changed your thought patterns, you must then say to yourself “I can do this.” Keep saying it until you believe it and you’re more than halfway to ending feeling overwhelmed.

      Advertising

      Take a deep breath/change your body posture

      When you’re stressed certain things happen to your body. You start to breath shallowly, you hunch over, you immediately tense up and all that tension drives your feelings of stress even more. Relax! Straighten your posture and take at least ten deep, cleansing, breaths. Force yourself to smile and do something to change your state. It could be as simple as giving yourself a hug or as silly as clapping your hands three times, throwing them up in the air and shouting “I GOT THIS!” Think to yourself, how would I sit/stand if I had perfect confidence and control of the situation?

      Focus on right now

      Now that you are in a better state of mind and are no longer thinking negatively, you need to focus on the here and now. Ask yourself this question: What is the most important thing I have control of and can act on right now? Keep asking yourself this until you have a concrete next step.

      Advertising

      Take Action

      Now that you know what’s most important and what to do about it, do it! Start with the first step and focus on getting that done. Don’t worry about anything else right now, just on what your first step is and how to get it done. Once that’s done with, determine the next most important step and get that done.

      Let go of what you can’t control (the gambler’s theory)

      Seasoned gamblers understand the importance of due diligence and knowing when to let go. The Gambler’s Theory is that once your bet is placed there is nothing you can do, so you might as well relax and enjoy the process. The time to worry is when you’re figuring out the best odds and making the decision of what to bet when you can actually take action. I used this one a lot in college. After an exam, there is absolutely no point in stressing about it. There’s nothing you can do. And the same goes for feeling overwhelmed. If you can do something about your situation, do it, focus and take action. But if you’ve done what you could and now are just waiting, or if you’re worried about something you have no control over, realize that there’s no point. You might as well relax and enjoy the moment.

      Advertising

      yoga-422196_1280
        Relax and enjoy the moment

        Stop feeling guilty

        Finally, stop comparing yourself to others. If you are at your wits end trying to keep up with what you think you should be doing, you aren’t being fair to yourself. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t strive for improvement, just don’t go overboard because you feel like you have to. Only you know what’s really important to you, and your personal success journey so focus on what your top priorities are, not someone else’s.

        Everyone feels overwhelmed sometimes. The important thing is to realize it’s normal and that you can do something about it by taking focused and deliberate action. Happy Holidays!

        Featured photo credit: Stress Therapy via flickr.com

        Read Next