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Some Things Are Not Optional

It happens to all of us.

We’re going about our day, hot on the trail of checking off items on our never-ending To-Do list. Then, we discovered that we didn’t get everything done before time ran out.

When my Son was entering the workforce, we would often find time to catch up on weekends. He was trying to navigate the business world while balancing his life. He had a fast-paced job and had become a productivity ninja. He was proud of his color-coded To-Do list and calendar, but he had a problem –

“Dad, no matter how organized I am, I still can’t get everything done. I’m writing everything down, and I’m working through it, and I still run out of time. What am I not doing right?”

My first thought was how happy I was that he had the clarity of mind to look beyond the obvious solution. Then, I had a few questions –

You say you have accounted for everything. How much time did you allocate for eating lunch or running down to the coffee shop today?

How many times did you visit the restroom, and how long did it take?

On your commute, how much time did you spend at the traffic lights?

I stopped.

“What does that have to do with my getting my work done?” he asked.

Nothing, but you still have to get that stuff done. And thanks for making my point.

What my Son had discovered is what I call “Non-Ops” — the non-optional things of life.

Non-Ops are a never-ending string of activities that require our attention. They never go away and sneak up without you knowing. If you don’t account for the Non-Ops of life, you’ll never get to the optionals of life.