Hacking Your Life? For What Reasons?

Hacking Your Life? For What Reasons?

The onslaught of “get things done” software tools, books and blog posts about great tips (1.7B hits on Google!) is mind-boggling.  It seems that there must be an infinite number of ways to get things done faster, easier and more organized.  I ask:  for what reasons?  So you can free up time to do more pointless things?  Before investing time in developing tips and tricks to eek out more seconds in your day, make certain you know why.

It seems elementary that one would know why they need more time.  You need more time to work on the design project due next Tuesday or the business proposition due to the board this Friday.  You need the time to study for the P.E. or start on your masters.  You need more time to spend with your kids/spouse/friends.  But does it happen that way?  Too many people I observe use their acumen for getting things done to simply fill it with more valueless action.  They’re moving fast, but they’re simply spinning in a circle, not moving forward.

Hacking life by getting things done is only effective if you have a plan that involves a series of goals and redlines.   The goals are for the areas of your life that are critical to your success and happiness, not the areas that you think are important. The redlines are the minimums below which you won’t accept your performance, results, or end state.  For example, you may identify “time with my family” as critical to your success/happiness and set the goal of keeping your evenings free for them.  But your work requires you travel and when you’re not on the road, you often times have clients calling at all hours.  What do you do? You look at your goal, look at your redline and make a decision.  That decision might be to let the calls go to voice mail and you deal with them after the kids hit the sheets or the next morning.  It may be to get an assistant who doesn’t care about fielding calls in the evening for you.  It may be telling your clients that you’ll be unreachable except for dire emergencies during set periods. 

You can get a lot of things done but filling every waking moment with mundane, pointless crap does you, or anyone else, little good.  The one thing I demand of myself is to constantly be on guard for minutiae-creep, the insidious growth of valueless tasks that seem to fill a full life of work and family.  Doing this keeps me on point to cut out the waste and keep me lean in my time use, so I can focus on the critical items that truly generate my happiness and success.

“If you’re not sure why you’re doing something, you can never do enough of it.”  David Allen

Christian Knutson, P.E., PMP is a leader, civil engineer, and author.  He’s an accomplished professional specializing in A/E/C work internationally and author of The Engineer Leader, a recognized blog on leadership and life success for engineers and professionals. 

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