The quote, “Busy is a choice. Stress is a choice. Joy is a choice. Choose well.”, is one I love because it’s a reminder that you choose your life. Maybe not all the things that happen to you, but for sure the way you react and respond to those things. You choose your level of presence and mindfulness. You choose how effective a human you are.
How effective are you in your life? Before you answer that question, consider your effectiveness at relationships, productivity, health maintenance, and self-care. Now, how effective are you in your life? You have the choice to be as effective as you want.
Part of the discussion around effectiveness is premised on the notion you have a focus in your life — a priority. It’s hard to gauge effectiveness without having a priority. If you don’t know what’s important to you then it’s hard to act in harmony with that priority, and then it’s hard to measure your effectiveness is moving with and toward that priority. Your level of intention also makes a difference in how consistently you act toward your priorities.
It’s my observation that people can shy away from total effectiveness because they fear the discipline required to be effective. Becoming disciplined so you can keep your priorities first is critical to being effective with your life. It doesn’t matter what aspect of your life you think about, without discipline you aren’t as effective as you can be.
Do you more prefer the pain of regret or the pain of discipline when it comes to pursuing your priorities and the effectiveness of the various aspects of your life? Your choice will impact your effectiveness. Additionally, if you aren’t making the choices that consciously direct your actions, then someone else is. That’s when your life becomes theirs, even if only for a few minutes. You sacrifice your power when you let others choose for you. Do you want that for yourself?
One way of looking at your effectiveness is to ask yourself if there is only one thing you could do with your life right now — right this second — what would it be? That question could be focused on your whole life, or an aspect of your life (relationships, productivity, health, etc.). Answering that question is making a choice. Note: a choice isn’t a thing you can pick up as you want to live an effective life, it’s an action you take every moment of your life. What choice are you going to make?
You choose how your act and react in the world. The choices you make, even if your choice is to not choose, move you along your life path. And the choices you make have consequences. How much attention do you pay to the consequences of your actions and choices? Being mindful helps you stay tuned to those consequences. I love how Newton’s Third Law applies to so much in life and to this discussion: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction — consequences are the opposite reaction to action and choice.
Your choices and actions each and every moment determine your experiences and your effectiveness. When you choose wisely, your highest good is available to you. Your highest good and effectiveness are closely related. Your choices and actions also create consequences which impact your effectiveness.
One trick to maximizing your effectiveness — maximizing your choices and actions — is to block your time. When you block time for acting on a specific project, dream or goal, you are more productive and make progress on that project.
What does block time look like in your day? You may wonder how it works so let me talk about that for a moment.
When you have a project you create an uninterrupted space — a block — of time to work on it. Block time is like building blocks in that you can put them together and arrange them in a variety of ways to create the result you want. You could block your time in two hour chunks, or half-day chunks, or even all-day chunks. The way you design and arrange your blocks creates different structures with different functions. Any number of designs can make for a good outcome; you get to be the architect of your blocked time. You are again faced with choice.
I heard of a man who used each day of the week for a specific project, giving him a one day block time for each project. Writers talk about blocking four to five hours every day to write regardless of what else is going on. Others efficiently block one and two hour blocks of time for projects, allowing for many projects in a day to be worked on. The way you approach to how you block your time for greatest success is dependent on several factors, including your personality or style, and the intensity of the project.
The one caution in having smaller time allotments for a project is that the gap between the blocks can become a trap to get distracted. That gap might be when you fall into the email trap or the social media maze, or gabbing on the phone or snacking in the kitchen, making that gap a time when you might derail your schedule and goals.
The underlying aspect of choice and effectiveness is your intentionality, how mindful you are. When you are present and mindful you see the “fork in the road” that lets you choose between the path that keeps you moving toward your goal and the path that derails you, rather than just blindly ambling along. It takes practice to be ever mindful and present. That practice is valuable, and important if you want to be effective and productive.
Deciding on, and working toward, being present in every moment of your day helps you choose effectiveness.