On a recent family trip to Toronto, we decided to only pack carry-on luggage.
It would be quicker to go through the lines at the airport and eliminate time waiting at the baggage claim. Plus, we’d have less to tote around the city as we hopped from trains to hotels.
Not to mention that we would also be in control of our luggage (which sounded very appealing after hearing so many stories of lost baggage at airports lately)!
It also meant a bit of extra thinking and planning about what to pack.
As I was packing, I started thinking about how taking a carry-on on a trip is a lot like prioritizing your work week.
Most people’s work weeks are an overstuffed 50-lb suitcase. Maybe even two suitcases!
The traditional thinking is that, in order to keep up with all the demands, you have to work harder and do more (and more).
But this often leads to being overloaded and exhausted, which hurts your performance, mental health and relationships.
You might feel like you don't have enough time for everything to do.
The key to having more time is doing less.
In order to be truly effective, understand that when you do less you can accomplish more because you get to the heart of what really matters.
Instead of being spread thin with “busy” work and letting your time and attention be stolen from what is of greater importance.
This can be a hard concept to wrap your head around, yet can yield dramatic results in your happiness and performance when you put it into practice.
What if you approached your workload for the week with what you could only fit in a carry-on?
- What critically important tasks or projects would you keep, where you add the highest value?
- What meetings would you attend? What is a necessity you must do, no matter what?
- What is something you’re good at and enjoy – that’s like your favorite sweater – you want to ensure you bring?
More importantly, what would you NOT pack?
- What are the projects, tasks, and meetings you know aren’t the best use of your time?
- What steals your attention from important work, or stresses you out that isn’t going to make the cut?
- Where do you complain, procrastinate, or get sucked into the drama that you just no longer have room for?
The reason this metaphor works so well is that if you were going on a trip with only a carry-on you would be FAR MORE selective and thoughtful about what you say ‘yes’ to and what you say ‘no’ to.
You would make sure you pack what’s important.
And you would be more willing to let go of that extra pair of pants – a.k.a that meeting you don’t really need to attend.
Doing less not only helps you focus on the right things, but it also gives you breathing space in your week to think, prioritize, breathe, rest, and be present for the other important areas of your life.
It takes a little more time upfront to prioritize, but you will be quicker to accomplish what's important, you waste less time on what doesn’t matter, and you can be in control of your workload. Plus it feels way better!
So, if you were to consider your work week an overstuffed suitcase, and you could only keep a carry-on size worth, what would you pack? What would NOT make the cut?
If you want help to take control of your workload, create balance in your life, and figure out how to do less and accomplish more, schedule a complimentary call here.
Life is too short to settle for the status quo!
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Stacey L. Olson is a Leadership and Certified Positive Psychology Coach, has 15 years of corporate experience and has gone through her own transformational change from burning out to balanced in life while performing at a high level (both in her corporate career and own business). She works with professionals who want to work less, live more and be their best even with all the demands, high expectations and messiness of everyday life. Stacey is the founder of The Balanced Leader™ program and offers executive and leadership coaching, workshops, and speaking.
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