I used to work myself into the ground trying to get everything done. I’m older now, and I’ve come to realize that on the day I die, my in box will be full (that’s both my physical in box and my email in box) and my To Do list incomplete.
What goes to the top of my To Do lists? Client projects, of course. Family stuff that matters to those I love. Prospecting activity. (Time spent face-to-face or phone-to-phone with those who are in a position to spend money with our company correlates directly with closed business. The same is likely true of your business.) And my considerable community service work. Usually in that order, but altered when deadlines press.
Can you have peace with a life like this? Often. I’ve come to realize that, if my life were simpler, I’d be bored! Case in point: a protégée:
A lady who works at one of my client companies showed great potential as a rainmaker (salesperson). She was awesome! She took what I was teaching and turned it into an impressive track record in selling, and a bright future, because the leadership in her Texas company recognized her ability. I helped her individually, and was so proud when she stepped up and made things happen.
Then one day she told me of a big decision she’d made. She was going into Accounts Payable.
“Accounts Payable?” I said. “You mean, an accounting job, at the desk all day, flat salary?”
“Yes,” she said, “I really like that, every day, I’ll come in and my in box will be full, I’ll spend the day entering the invoices and paying them, and at close of business my in box will be empty, and my job complete until tomorrow. I won’t even have to think about it!”
I paused to consider this. What joy! Completion! No need to think of one’s job until walking into the workplace the next morning! That’s inherently appealing. But I suggested to her, “I think you need a vacation!” My sense was that, if she was nothing more than an invoice-entering, check-cutting machine, she’d be bored quickly; maybe her “overwhelm” in the sales role could be cured with a couple of weeks away from work completely.
My friend went into Accounts Payable. I was disappointed. But the key to her decision was time, and a desire to be DONE. I think the key to many fulfilling professional roles may be giving up on the idea of completion. Accepting that, every day of our working life, we’ll be living with some To Dos - or many To Dos - and that that’s something with which we can make peace.
Finding the time? Why, I have time for anything I decide to have time for. Of course, I can’t do everything. And that’s OK.