The Busyness Curse
And what does working out have to do with it? Everything!
You head into the gym and you lift some weights, throw them into a circuit and get a good sweat on. And you finish with some HIIT work or metcon or whatever it is that you think is the coolest thing for today. Your calories burned is pretty high and you feel pretty drained. That's a good workout!
The next time you head into the gym, similar strategy. You do a bunch of different things and get a great sweat on and your calories burned is even higher.
And you do this for a few months. And that's the issue. A workout is simply that - working yourself out. It is great to workout. But for the longer term, you want to follow a training plan.
Do you think taking singing/piano/whatever lessons that focus on fundamentals, build up the skills, and progressively challenge you will result in a higher skill level in a year? Or going in and playing a random song today, a different one next week, and a completely new one the week after?
Same idea. Workouts are random for the most part, and focus on "how worked out do you feel?"
Where the heck does busyness come in? Well, most of your day is task after task after task. You are working 10-15 hour days. Answering emails while you are on phone calls and juggling meetings. And since you are working from home, there are the chores at home and the family stuff to handle as well. Busy busy busy.Your entire day is pretty hectic, from start to finish. But if you look back at it after a week, you'd be hard-pressed to write down what you actually did during that day.
Quadrant-II and the Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix is a powerful tool for prioritisation and planning. You break down your tasks into one of the 4 quadrants - Urgent and Not Urgent, Important and Not Important.
And most of you (me included) live way too much in Quadrant-1 i.e. Urgent + Important.
The image above is from James Clear’s article.
You have 10 tasks to do. And you need to do them today. Now!
It makes you feel productive. It makes you feel like you had a good workday.
But it is similar to a workout. You worked yourself out. But what's the long-term game here.
The long-term game is in Quadrant-2. Where you prioritise and schedule your Important (and not Urgent) work. What we unfortunately do is keep postponing these things, as they are not Urgent. But they are Important.
Following a training plan is the same deal - you prioritise the long-term. You want what you do today to be part of a larger picture. It feeds and grows you.
You determine what is Important to you and work on it. It is not a task that you can check off within 15 minutes (like answering an email.) But it is a task that needs you to do many repetitions over the next few months.
If you want to write a book, one page at a time. Over many times.
You want to deadlift double your bodyweight, one training session at a time.
This busyness is a drain. Being too busy is a red flag. Of someone who does not delegate or prioritise well. Of someone who has not taken the time to understand what is important or long-term. When you are too busy, it is not a matter of pride.
Over the past few years, I've realised I've dug myself into this hole. As I get more and more efficient at what I do and the tasks I can get done in the same time window, I add more tasks to my plate. But the long-term has suffered. My attention span has atrophied. Sitting down and chewing on a problem for a few hours is impossible to do, coz there are 15 emails accumulating and a meeting to go to.
One advantage I have is access to a tremendous community, which includes quite a few successful people who run enterprises way BIGGER than anything I can imagine. And one common thread is they are not busy. They've taken the time to design their lives such that their work-life balance is not skewed. They can and do take the time to do the larger things. That's a simple, clear path to follow and aim for.
As always, it takes a simpler setting for me to understand. Working out is fun. Working out gives you instant gratification.
A training session does not leave you in a pool of sweat. Some training sessions are ridiculously light and short. There's a lot of boredom involved if you look at it on paper. Coz you are repeating the same things over and over and over again.
But working out = busyness. And for the long term, I do not want to keep working out. And I do not want to be stuck in busyness.
Fuck busyness. Think long-term.
Now, I am not saying we stop working out or we stop having days where it is all Urgent + Important. But instead, we shift our life where it is 20% busyness and not 80% where it is now. Likewise, working out is fun - so, maybe once a week you do that. But your training plan is what forms the crux of your week.