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Grow it, Maintain it or Purge it: A Strategy for Assessing Your Overcommitments

The other night I was lost in a bit of chronic multitasking. It was nearing the end of my daughter’s gymnastics practice and I was driving around thinking about her dinner, my upcoming marathon and some projects with my job.

I felt a sudden sense of urgency to process and review everything that I’m involved in. What has become a common occurrence, having to much to do with too little time, had finally reached it’s limits.

This was likely aided by the fact that as I was also finishing the book, Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. The book is a short and easy read detailing 21 strategies to overcome procrastination and be more productive.

So as I started to mentally list every project and commitment, I realized a great difference in my projects and how they needed to be treated differently.

It’s one thing to have a clear understanding of your priorities and projects. But it’s another thing to regularly assess where each of these items should be heading and then adjust accordingly.

For example, here’s a little bit of some of my involvements:
– I volunteer at church and serve on a couple non-profit boards.
– I have wife and children responsibilities as well as home projects.
– I’m training for a marathon, writing my first book and I have this blog.
– Now to my job, or two jobs! I have my consulting clients and I’m an affiliate manager for a tech company in LA.
– Plus, each job is multifaceted with sub-projects of their own. I didn’t even mention my spiritual health and spending time with God.

So I know what you’re thinking. It’s a bit overkill. My schedule is ridiculous! Unwise even. And you’re probably right!

However, I can’t simply complain about my situation. I need to make positive decisions and move on. We all have overcommitments in some areas. Things we do that are taking time and energy that could be spent better elsewhere. So what does one do? How do you choose? How do you process? How do you purge?

Here is a simple 3 step strategy to help you get started.

First, know what your non-negotiable commitment areas are. ie. Family, God, Health, Money. Or maybe Self, Work, Family and Friends. For each of these areas, whatever they are for you; you will not live whole if you neglect them. So they will all require some of your time. However, the HOW we go about serving them is up for creativity and negotiation.

Next, figure out what things are temporal or seasonal. Complete the commitment according to the agreement. It can end when finished or end after a certain period of time. I wholeheartedly believe in finishing what you start. It may not always be the prettiest, but I’ll do my best with the limitations I have.

Lastly, here is one last way to process your commitments. Decide over the coming three months whether your involvement should end, grow or maintain. For me, there are only one or two areas that I want to see significant growth. Most of the other areas will either be maintained or they should end.

I would presume that the more areas we end, the more likely we will see growth where it matters most. You can “maintain” a lot if you want to. But why just maintain? That’s almost like survival, complacency or just being average. To truly get ahead focus is necessary. Yet, focus is impossible when you’re spread too thin. Focus is also impossible without taking the time to think and reflect and make sure your priorities haven’t changed.

So, anyway… those are my thoughts….

I don’t know what you’re about to do, but I’m about to cut a few things.

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