When it comes to getting things done, don’t just think — contemplate.
- The essence of time-saving productivity tips generally boils down to putting in the time now to save time ahead.
- The core of the GTD mind-set is getting the right things done in the time given — “right” varying with the criteria you use.
While no one can actually save time as if it were money in the bank, we can use time towards our own advantage — especially when we’re prepared to go up against our own selves.
Here’s the way it usually goes:
- You block off time to think about certain important matters. In that time, you make your assessments, assigning certain weights and priorities to certain activities.
- You weigh, you prioritize, then you start weeding.
- You lay out the plan over a certain time period to make order out of these various obligations and responsibilities.
- You clear the way to a good work-week ahead, or break down a n important project over a month so you won’t tax yourself too much.
Come go-time, something comes up that you just have to attend to, and other things fall off the radar — important but not urgent things.
The action seems to have lost its importance.
You can’t see the point in attending to them. Or you don’t feel like it right now.
And so on.
Helpful article: Make It Easy on Yourself
You put in the time to do less of the non-important things, so you do the more (and most) important things first, even if it means chipping at these things a little at a time, day by day. You think ahead so you can arrange how to spend yourself — your energy, your presence, and your focus — on the high-value targets in your scope.
And then you get bored. You get distracted. You wander off-course.
In the aftermath of the things you did and did not do, you ask yourself. “What was I thinking?” So here’s a tip to help you away from asking that question so much.
Let’s put it this way: meditation is to a deeper calm, as contemplation is to deeper thoughts.
Extra resource: Palousemindfulness.com
Contemplation is a few steps up from thinking — or a few steps further in, in a way. Coming at it from the word’s contextual roots , contemplation asks more from you than an afternoon of carving out dates, details and worksheets for quarterly business plans, which is just an example. Contemplation isn’t just a way to get things done, it’s a means to determine the right things for you to do.
When you contemplate something you go deep because you’ll be looking at the why behind the hows, the why under the whats, and examining whatever is revealed or uncovered in the light of what is important to you and the life you want to live.
In a way, you think with your brain, you contemplate with your brain and your soul. Beyond the business itself, what are you doing? Why are you doing it?
Putting this as metaphor, you’re not mining for answers insomuch as uncovering the roots of what is already there, just deeply buried, and probably forgotten and un-examined. You go for the tap-roots of you and learn about yourself from the inside.
You’re doing this for freedom. Time-wise, money-wise, decision-wise, you’re doing this so you won’t have to do what others tell you. You own your own time and the results of your work give you the opportunities to fulfill your goals: whether you aim to be a location-independent traveler who can work anywhere, be someone who sets their own hours, work to build a community, or be able to work from home and be with your family, etc.
Like an inner shift of light, the revelations that come can revolutionize the way you see things, which in turn can revitalize and reaffirm your goals –or start you on the path towards a more authentic life. You can change the way you do things, and actually change the way you live .
You can change your life.
You just need to put in the effort to think about how, and why — and to do that you need to go deep.
Having a pie in the sky attitude is not conducive to success, and neither is cloud-watching. Excellence and success are not gained by wistful daydreaming. Only relentless, focused, directed action opens up the avenue for that.
Like a poet once said, it’s okay to build castles in the sky, but you have to build the foundations under them. Contemplation is you throwing yourself all-in into making the blue-prints, construction schedule, selecting contractors, and getting the money to start.
Are you mostly on auto-pilot?
Many habits of mind develop organically — things sort of fall into place because they’re just there.
Habits grow easily…they grow to fill in spaces, are often organic in nature in that, hey, if this works, use it. And then you rarely bother to think if there is another, better way to do it, or other options available out there. “It’s always been done this way. You can’t do that. There’s no future in (whatever options you’re considering).”
Think about how you’re thinking, and about why you see things that way.
THINKING AHEAD is the different between haphazard growth and a well-laid out, serviceable plot of goals and ideas. THINKING DEEPLY is the difference between harvesting what you planned for and hoped for in the fullness of time — versus staring at barren fields and bitter fruit.
Contemplation is a strength, and like all deeply valuable things, it doesn’t come without cost. You have to earn it through doing the work of practicing focus.
– even when it’s uncomfortable and frustrating.
– even when a dozen other issues are banging at your closed door begging to be let in.
– even when you’re tempted to do something more immediately, visibly productive, or pleasurable, or seductive.
At the end, when you get into the practice of deep thinking, you develop a far richer, more nuanced way of looking at life. It will help you become more resilient, more flexible, and even more forgiving when it comes to being faced with the challenges, setbacks, and problems you’ll encounter. The work will be hard, but the pay-off is more than worth it.
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