Every time I run a group program—EVERY SINGLE TIME—the one topic that emerges from the group is time management.
The ask usually goes something like this:
“How can I do everything that I already do, AND these practice building things that you are teaching us.”
“I was feeling overwhelmed already. How could I possibly add anything more?”
Embedded in these two questions is a tiny, destructive kernel that will stop your time management efforts (and your business building efforts… and your happiness) in its tracks.
Can you spot it?
Spoiler alert: The answer to the first question is “You can’t.” and the answer to the second one is “Don’t!”
The goal of your life, I presume, is to be delighted and have adventures, share your gifts with the world, generate deep and meaningful connections with people you care about and leave a legacy that changes the world for the better. Yes?
If that’s your goal, MORE is a trojan horse.
MORE is an addiction.
MORE, frankly, is a symptom of trying to prove your worth to an unforgiving and disinterested world.
I know this because I have fallen prey to MORE many times. When I’m guided by a clear vision and a commitment to the word “No,” I can go far, fast (so can you, of course). When, on the other hand, I’m just trying to do MORE, be MORE, or prove that I am MORE, it just results in me, up against the wall, juggling an overwhelming amount of MORE.
My most recent encounter with the siren song of MORE was back at the beginning of 2019. I began a demanding 6-month program in public speaking. Once a month, I travelled to headquarters for four days and in the intervening weeks I chose to participate in almost daily rehearsals.
But then, 3 months into the program a Big 5 publisher reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in writing a book on Millennial Burnout. I was absolutely floored… is this a thing that happens? And even though this book wasn’t entirely aligned with my vision at the time, and I was really, really overcommitted already, I said yes because it seemed “too good to pass up.” I could be a published author! The opportunity was sooo tempting… I had to say “yes,” right? RIGHT? My ego agreed, so I turned my life upside down and wrote a book proposal in two weeks… which they then rejected.
When the agent asked if I wanted to shop the book proposal around to smaller publishers, I knew I didn’t want to… the point of the original “yes” was to get a big deal with a big publisher. And anyway, I was already so tired, but I said yes because I didn’t want to give up the idea of “being an author” and, honestly, I didn’t want to disappoint the agent.
Eventually, I accepted a deal from a small publisher to produce the book in about six months. It might have been OK, if I wasn’t assigned the “help” of a very skeptical editor.
I am extremely efficient. I have systems, structures, and commitments that make it possible for me to do A LOT. But I was spinning plates in my sleep, trying to keep up with all this MORE.
And then one day I finally woke up and asked “For what?”
Within 2 months I had ended the book deal, walked back a number of my other commitments, and settled into a way-scaled-back life. And then I waited for inspiration, intention and purpose to regrow into a vision inside of me.
I’ve found myself burned out a couple of times across my career, but this time felt different. I had done so much work on my own time management skills that I had legitimately run out of time to reclaim. I was using every drop of every day with an efficiency to rival the Navy… and yet, it still wasn’t enough.
You’re never doing “enough” because you can never tell when you are done. How would you know?
And that’s the problem I see with so many of the time management blog posts and programs in the world. The emphasis is often on this blind devotion to “getting more done,” assuming that the MORE you get done, the better things will be.
But I DO NOT see it that way. At the core of a true, liberating time management program that makes it possible for you to make magic happen in your life and business is the word “NO.”
The concept of choice. YOUR choice.
And your own vision for what YOU are attempting to accomplish.
Instead, you’ll free up time by becoming more efficient and then pack that time full of MORE.
You’ll free up more time through systems and structures and you’ll pack that time with MORE.
You’ll free up time by “getting serious” and deleting social media and games from your phone, declaring that you “don’t have time to watch tv,” and creating work time in the early morning, late at night and on the weekends… and then you’ll pack that time full to the brim with MORE, MORE, MORE.
And, at the end of all of that, all you will have is a pile of MORE and an exhaustion for life.
Let’s not do that.
Let’s say NO to MORE and get you the life and practice that you want.
Amanda Crowell, PhD is a cognitive psychologist obsessed with how people make change. She is best known for translating cutting edge research into practical strategies that can be used right away.