HOW TO WORK SMARTER NOT HARDER
Years ago (I won’t say how long but you may deduce it for yourself), I heard a tall tale involving a teenager, a sewing pattern for culottes (i.e. clue), and a handy dandy pair of industrial scissors.
This teen set to work cutting out the shorts by pinning the pattern pieces to the plaid fabric that she’d smoothed out across the TV room floor. The fabric was heavy-duty and she threw her weight into getting the scissors to cut out the large pieces. She almost developed blisters achieving this feat, and when she lifted the pattern pieces from the floor, she had a double surprise.
She had fabric pieces to make plaid culottes
she had carpet pieces to make Indoor/Outdoor culottes!
Sometimes, we miss the cues that let us know that we’re working harder than we need to.
Can you relate to the following?
— While fixing dinner, Christine realized she didn’t have her favorite mango chutney to go with the tilapia she had planned. So, she runs to the store, does her week’s worth of shopping (since she’s there anyway!), and on the way home, she detours to the drive through since she’s now too tired to cook.
— Ken was about to mail his month-end bills (on their “must be mailed by” date) and found he was short one stamp. Instead of tackling that work project he needed to complete, he ended up spending the evening making an unplanned trip clear across town to his local utility company’s night drop off box.
— Beth wants to get in shape, so she signs up for a week-long bootcamp type program. She’s gung-ho for the first few days, but as the stiffness and soreness sets in, her motivation lags. She’s late to class on day 4 because she can’t find her shoes. She forgets to set her alarm on day 5 and then forfeits days 6 and 7 since she rationalizes that she’s fallen too far behind to catch up.
We’ve all had to deal with unexpected turn of events or unplanned circumstances. The key is being able to react and take pragmatic action.
Each instance listed above is an example of failing to see the big picture. This results from several things, not the least of which an unfortunate lack of self-care. When we’re well-rested, well-fed, and in relatively good shape, we think better, plan better, and are better at problem-solving.
When we get in our own way (by skimping on self-care), we lose “seeing the big picture” skills. Each instance mentioned above comes from thinking small.
Christine could have made due with the ingredients she had rather than changing the course of the evening to search for the one she didn’t.
Ken could have noticed he was running low on stamps and strategically used them for bills that could only be mailed. He likely could have found at least one that could be paid online. Of course, it would be even better to not pay things at the last minute, but life happens.
Beth could have formed a better vision of WHY she wanted to improve her health. By keeping a focus on her desires for change, she would have experienced a different “inner game” each morning as she awoke to meet her challenge.
Are you ready to think more clearly, react more evenly, and take action with purpose?
Tell me how your self-care activities keep you working smarter not harder!
(By the way, in case you’re wondering … the aforementioned pattern-cutting teen was not me. In an effort to protect the not-so-innocent, she’ll remain nameless until Mom chooses to give up the decades long quest to find out what happened to the carpet in the TV room.)
Great examples here! We all truly waste a lot of energy sometimes! Practicality is so key. We all say we need more than 24 hours a day to get everything done. We don’t. It’s efficiency and smoothness of operation that we lack sometimes.
Thanks Gerry — efficiency is key – and nothing revs the motor like healthy fuel!
I’m a writer and illustrator who has a hard time getting up in the morning, but I’ve recently come up with a solution. Before I go to bed, I leave myself some small, simple art project to work on when I wake up. Something like coloring in the sky for an illustration; something that isn’t really challenging and doesn’t require me to be 100% awake to do it. That way when I wake up, I don’t say to myself, “I’m too tired to write that scene or draw that picture… I’m gong to sleep for just five more minutes…” Instead, I have something easy enough for my early morning self to do, something that gets me warmed up for more complicated projects later in the day.
That’s simply brilliant, James! I love it that the joy of what you do starts off your day on the right foot. Talk about win/win! Thanks for sharing!
Wonderful wisdom, & a much-needed reminder, Sue! I can REALLY relate to this kind of behavior! (LOVE the plaid culottes, btw…ROFL!!!)
Fun memories — eh? Love right back to you, Donna!
I’m a writer, too. I organize my errands & appts for 2 days during the week, so I have the time I need to work most days. I do something similar to the artist above. I print out the day’s work and edit it with a pen in the evenings. In the mornings, I input the changes and then I’m usually ready to go.
Absolutely love that suggestion! It’s make the most of what each part of the day has to offer without sacrificing your energy. Kudos!
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