Why It’s So Hard To Accomplish Things

I’m sitting here on Labor Day thinking about the topic for next week’s column. A phone call from my wife temporarily requires my attention, but then I get back to my computer. A news flash from CNN pops up about the fire in LA, so I check it out (I have family in LA). Then I remember I have to put the sprinklers on to water the lawn, and while I’m at it I water all the potted plants, and then I get back to my column.

But I’m feeling distracted, so I decide to do the at-home exercises suggested so I can regain my arm/shoulder strength after having had rotator cuff surgeries on my shoulders. After that, I take a shower. My wife, who is home by now, asks me to take out the garbage and recycling, and then wants to talk about final menu plans for our upcoming party. Then, I get back to my column. But my peace is interrupted by an email saying that my credit card company will automatically withdraw this month’s bill from my checking account, so I look at my checkbook to make sure I remembered to record that amount. Then, my 3 year old grandson FaceTimes me because he wants to talk with “Bampa.”

If this scenario sounds familiar, you are not alone. There are so many things to do that it’s hard to get anything done. Or rather, we have so many goals, interests and demands that require our time and effort that it’s increasingly difficult to carry any one thing through to completion. It’s not because we don’t have our eyes on the ball, it’s that we have our eyes on so many balls at the same time.

Fostering a relationship with my grandson, of course. Making sure all my bills get paid on time, check. Hosting an occasional get-together with friends, you bet. Helping around the house and taking care of the plants and lawn, sure. Exercise and good personal hygiene, certainly. Tending to my wife, of course. Checking the news cycle, emails and texts, absolutely. And this is just one morning at home. It doesn’t take into account work (a big demand on time and energy), shopping, home repairs and upkeep, entertainment, reading, upcoming vacations, medical appointments, dog prescriptions, family, romance—well, you get the idea.

We have so many goals and interests that are important to us, and there are so many things that need to get done that require our time, that we find ourselves trying to accomplish a huge number of wants, needs and demands that scatter our focus and use up our energy. It’s hard to keep our attention on our bigger goals because we are trying to accomplish so many things at the same time, and it becomes increasingly impossible to get everything done that we want to do.

The wisest solutions to this are twofold. First, minimize distractions so we can stay in the flow on one item that is extremely important to us—so we give ourselves the opportunity of getting it done. Second, prioritize our other significant long-term goals—and to do those things first. If you leave time for long-term goals, minimize distractions and then take care of what needs to get done now, you’ll be keeping your eyes on your most important goals and priorities.

Now, I need to get back to next week’s column. But first, I need to check the TV schedule and Facebook.

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