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Exposing Hidden Time-Suckers

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 discover that we didn’t get everything done before time ran out. 

When my son entered the workforce, we often found time to catch up on weekends. He was trying to navigate the business world while balancing his life. He had an exceptionally 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 finish everything. I write 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 to look beyond the obvious solution. Then, I had a few questions –

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

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

How much time did you spend on your commute 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.

My son had discovered 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 suck up time without you even knowing. If you don’t account for the basics of life, you’ll never get to the big stuff of life.

After all, you can only go so long without eating, drinking, or sleeping – making everything else the real optional things in life.

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