Remember rotary telephones? I had to use one at the lakeside cottage my family rented last summer, and, boy, was it irritating. That old monster took forever to dial. Okay, it took only 11 seconds (I timed it), but that seemed an eternity in today's fast-paced world. Which got me thinking about why I found it so irritating to spend an entire 11 seconds dialing a phone number! So what?
Without intending to, many people find they live in a rush they didn't create, or at least didn't mean to create. Sometimes busy-ness is blissful. But not if "busy" keeps you from doing what's most important to you. Here's how to overcome this common malady:
Focus on what truly matters.
Don't spread yourself too thin, and don't get sidetracked. Remember, cell phones, personal computers, and other high-tech tools enable us to do more, but more is not necessarily better.
Create a positive emotional environment wherever you go.
Positive emotion is not a frill. It's the on/off switch for effective mental functioning. When you feel secure in your surroundings, you think better, behave better, work better, and are better able to help others. So do your best to build positive relationships. Always aim to be friendly and upbeat.
Don't waste time "screensucking."
What's that? It's being glued to your TV or computer screen. Screensucking interferes with the brain's ability to focus. Whenever possible, limit such electronic hypnosis to one hour a day.
Things that distract you on a regular basis should be addressed. Keep losing your glasses? Train yourself to put them in a special place. If you're distracted by magazines strewn about your kitchen, put a basket in another room, and make sure the magazines get into it.
Delegate anything you're not good at.
Is paying bills each month an irritant because you never manage to send them in on time? Hand the job over to your spouse. If you're not married (or have a spouse who isn't good at it, either), put as many bills as possible on auto-pay.
Your goal is not to be independent, but to be effectively interdependent. That is, to share responsibilities for various tasks and projects with other people.
Periodically ask yourself why you're in such a hurry, and take the question seriously. If the answer is "because I'm late," assess your priorities and cut out unnecessary responsibilities. The time you save should be devoted solely to personal or family time.
Think twice about multitasking.
People often try to do two or more things simultaneously, assuming it saves time. But research shows doing two things at once takes about 50 percent longer than doing them sequentially. An exception to this rule: Some people with ADD focus better if they do something essentially mindless while tackling an important task - for example, listening to music or balancing on a ball while doing homework.
Invest your time for maximum return.
Not sure where the time goes? Create a chart, and record everything you do. Maybe the chart indicates you're spending too much time looking for lost keys or nagging your teenage daughter to clean up her room. Think of some creative ways to eliminate these (hanging a key hook near the front door or deciding that her room doesn't really need to be clean, after all).
Imaginatively engage in what you are doing. This will use the best parts of your wonderful, creative mind. Playing is not a waste of time. It will make you more effective at whatever you're doing, whether it's carrying on a conversation or baking an apple pie.
This article comes from the June-July issue of ADDitude.
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