It’s not enough to be busy…The question is: what are we busy about?
–Henry David Thoreau
Growing up my father taught me that most of the things we have to do in our lives fall into three “to do” categories. He classifies daily task into three categories: things we “have to do,” “ought to do,” and “want to do.” He would say that we “have to do” very few things in life, and as we (my older brother and I) become men with purpose, we would not have the opportunity to do as many of the “want to do” items in our lives. My father taught us that the “ought to do” items will be the ones that define us. There are many things in the pursuit of being a great man that you “ought to do,” but most will find they do not do them because they are not willing to sacrifice the long list of “want to do” items in their lives. The “ought to do” items in our lives are what help us live a life of service.
I have always found this idea about our lives “to dos” an extremely valuable lesson and a simple way to define my priorities in life. But, I have also found that in Leading with L.E.S.S. and taking care of yourself in that process, we must make time for some of the “want to” items in our life as well.
During “school time” I can get hyper-focused on my daily work to the point where I become very distracted at home. I lose track of what I am doing, where I am going when I am driving, and I forget to finish tasks I have started as my mind wanders back to thinking about missions and passions of the school day. I am basically, getting to caught up in the “ought to do” tasks of my job, so much so, that I forget about almost everything else.
I often continue with these “ought to do” tasks even when I try to take a break. I feel that in the time I take off I should get caught up on my professional reading list, or just answer this one last email for the day. I will admit, I sometimes feel guilty for being less than productive during breaks that I take from work. But, I know when I take time, I have to take time for the “want to” times. Even though I may have not accomplished all of the things I felt like I “ought to do” in my time off, I know I will ultimately accomplish more in the long run because I took some time for myself.
We have to find time in our busy schedules for a few “want to” items each day, or week. Whether that is a few minutes of quiet time; taking a walk; reading something for enjoyment; or leaving a little earlier from work than normal to spend more time with your family. Whatever it is, we need to find ways to self-regulate ourselves each day so we can be at our best in the service of others.
I believe that time is not really the factor that keeps us from getting things done, but you hear people always complaining about not having enough. Time is the only thing, no matter who you are or where live, that is exactly the same for every human being. We all have 24 hours in the day…no more…no less. All that time does is to force us to prioritize what is really important. If you are not taking time for something, then no matter what you say, it is not a priority in your life.
Each day (or at least each week), take time for some “want to do” items in your life. Our character may be defined by how you handle the things on “ought to do” list, but we also have to remember that a life with no time given to the “want to do” items can drain you, and ultimately make you accomplish less over a long period of time.
Keep learning; keep growing; keep sharing!