10 Reasons Why You Aren’t Done Yet

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling overwhelmed with my workload. I always leave the office at 6:00 p.m. in order to have dinner with my family. Then I typically get back on my laptop and catch up on my email. I shoot to be in bed no later than 10:00 p.m.

A Man Sleeping on His Computer - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/jhorrocks, Image #5058401

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/jhorrocks

However, for several nights in a row, I did not get to bed until almost midnight. As a result, I slept in longer and stopped running. I became irritable and started losing focus. It was clear that I needed to change something—and now!

My experience isn’t unique. Every where I go, people seem to be overwhelmed by the volume of their work. With layoffs in many businesses, employees are pulling double-duty. It’s time to get serious and triage our workloads.

Late one night, I caught myself saying to my wife Gail for the third time, “Just a few more minutes, Honey. I’m almost done.” Immediately, I realized I was lying to her and to myself. I closed my laptop and jotted down a list of ten things that had kept me from completing their work. Do these apply to you?

  1. Too many meetings. How many of meetings actually advance my agenda and the reason I was hired in the first place. Too often, meetings are simply a way for people to procrastinate and avoid taking responsibility for their decisions. It’s much easier to let “the group” make the decision. Some meetings are legitimate, to be sure. But how many issues can I handle without resorting to a meeting? I need ask, “Do we really need a meeting to address that issue?”
  2. Mindlessly surfing the web. When I was growing up, television was the big time-waster. Now it is the Internet. You look at this Web page, click on that link, visit another page, and then click on another link. Before you know it, you have wasted hours and hours and have nothing to show for it. It’s time to limit our time online. I think I might even try scheduling my Web time.
  3. Being distracted by online pings. I shoot to have my inbox at zero by the end of the day. But do I really need to respond to every message in real time? Do you? Unless you are in customer service, probably not. You can accomplish the same goal by “batching” your inbox processing into distinct blocks of time. This includes Twitter, Facebook, and other social media services.
  4. Allowing people to drop in without an agenda. I usually work with my door open. I want to be accessible to my people. But some people abuse this. They drop by without and agenda and eat up time I don’t have. I always feel badly about bringing the meeting to a close. But if I don’t say “no” to them, I will have to say “no” to more important projects—and perhaps even my family. I am willing to chat for a bit, but I have to be more courageous about standing up and walking my guests to the door.
  5. Being consumed by the urgent. Modern culture is addicted to urgency. People demand an instant response. It is part of our increasingly me-centered world. Everything revolves around my agenda and my priorities. But how much of it is truly urgent. My daughter Megan often reminds me, “Dad, you’re not saving lives; you’re just making books.” Nothing like a big dose of perspective!
  6. Being a perfectionist. Honestly, this is my besetting sin. (Or I should say, one of them.) I am constantly tweaking my projects. The problem is that it always feels like the change is smaller than it really is. This will just take a minute, I think to myself. Two hours later, I am still working on the same project. I like G.K. Chesterton’s quote: “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” In other words, not everything has to be perfect. Just get it out the door!
  7. Refusing to delegate. This one is also tough for me. I can’t argue that I don’t have anyone to help. I have plenty of resources available. But I kid myself into thinking it will be faster if I just do it myself. I don’t want to take the time to explain to someone else how I want it done. Frankly, my own arrogance is probably at the root of this one. I need to take my own advice.
  8. Not starting the day with a to-do list. I am so much more productive when I take ten minutes and actually decide what tasks I want to accomplish TODAY. I use a software package called Things, and it is perfect for this. I can take any of my tasks and assign them to the “Today Focus.” (They also have an iPhone app that syncs with the desktop.) When I just launch into the day without a to-do list, I pay for it later—in spades.
  9. Not committing to an end time. As the old adage goes, “Work expands to the time allotted to it.” This explains why the week before your vacation is one of the most productive weeks of the year. You have a fixed end-time, and that forces you to be efficient. However, this also works with your daily schedule. I have a rule that I observe religiously: I leave the office by 6:00 p.m. My problem is that I sometimes take work home and then allow my evenings to become a buffer for the overflow. This has to stop.
  10. Not scheduling time to work. If I don’t have a plan for my day, chances are, someone else does. On Sunday evenings, I go through and schedule blocks of time that I call “Office Work.” These are essentially appointments with myself to get specific projects done. When other people check my calendar, these blocks show up as “busy.” If someone asks me if I am free at that time, I can legitimately say, “No, I’m afraid I have another commitment at that time.” This has been one of the most helpful tools in my toolbox.

If you are feeling like your work/life balance is out of kilter, maybe it’s time for you to make a list of the reasons you aren’t done yet. If you are reading this after hours, that could be a clue.

Questions: Why aren’t you done yet? What is keeping you at the office late?
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  • Jim Oberschmidt

    Thanks Mike,
    Efficiency and focus are the results of natural deadlines in each day. This is a great reminder, and I am tweaking my Tuesday list in a few minutes. Jim

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/mattedmundson Matt Edmundson

    All true – and all my experience. My mind feels a lot clearer if I take 10 minutes to plan the day (I'm still stuck with MS Exchange and Outlook). The best thing I ever did was take the automatic email download feature off my iPhone – so at least when I am at home, my attention is with them and not with my pinging phone all the time!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Turning off automatic email download is a great idea. One of our executives puts his phone up in his closet when he gets home.

  • James

    I have overcome staying at the office past 5 PM. My downfall would be working from home on the cell and the computer. In the trucking business things don't always go as planned requiring continual re-planning. Fortunately I have a great night shift who takes care of most issues. I get involved in issues above their authority level. I need to work on items 6,7 and 8. Great post
    My recent post Control

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/drockwel Dan Rockwell


    I love it when you lay it out there! I'm a tweaker! I can't leave things alone. And here is another one.

    I refuse to reuse something I've done before unless I rework it.


    Leadership Freak
    Dan Rockwell
    My recent post Survive your Promotion – Book Review

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I hate that one, too. I almost feel like I am cheating if I don't tweak it!

  • Scott Williams

    Amen & Amen!

  • Women Living Well

    Excellent suggestions! I'm "just" a stay-at-home bloggin mommy – but I see all of these as relevant to even the stay at home mom! Especially the "to-do" list. So many women are overwhelmed. I find that taking the time to write in the morning my to-do list helps me to see what needs to happen and what I can put off till tomorrow and what I can delegate to the kids! I just wrote my to-do list at 6:45am this morning – I'm ready for my day! Now I just need to stop blog surfing hehe!

    My recent post Good Morning Girls Update

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Stay-at-home moms are some of the busiest people I know. I don’t know how they get it all done. I watched my wive with our five kids and thought, I have the easy job!

      • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com WomenLivingWell

        Oh you are too kind to say that! I think men have a big burden to carry too as providers! But I would agree that for moms with little ones – having the kids hanging on you all day can be overwhelming. But I believe if we implement a few "routines" or "schedules" to our day and week, we can squeeze in a quiet time, work out time, cleaning time, menu planning time etc. I forget who said this quote but I read once "when you do the ordinary in an extraordinary way, you will demand the attention of the world." That's what Women Living Well is about – doing the ordinary things in an extraordinary way to the glory of God! Our little ones are watching!
        My recent post Good Morning Girls Update

      • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com WomenLivingWell

        Oh you are too kind to say that! I think men have a big burden to carry too as providers! But I would agree that for moms with little ones – having the kids hanging on you all day can be overwhelming. But I believe if we implement a few "routines" or "schedules" to our day and week, we can squeeze in a quiet time, work out time, cleaning time, menu planning time etc. I forget who said this quote but I read once "when you do the ordinary in an extraordinary way, you will demand the attention of the world." That's what Women Living Well is about – doing the ordinary things in an extraordinary way to the glory of God! Our little ones are watching!
        My recent post Good Morning Girls Update

      • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/ronlane Ron Lane

        I totally agree with that Michael. That is a motivating factor for me to do what I need to do. I just have to remember that I could be at home while she was working.

  • http://www.beautifulvisionofyou.blogspot.com Susie A

    Great post!!! Good advice…..I will be sharing with some colleagues….
    Susie A.
    My recent post I'm Back….

  • http://www.kristiejackson.blogspot.com Kristie Jackson

    Great thoughts here! I think I'll start using Things and setting End times, and revisit this again in a few weeks. Time management is probably my biggest weakness, so many thanks for sharing your wisdom!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/success2you John Richardson

    Great list, Michael. I found for myself that tweaking my daily to-do list to have 6 priority boxes at the top really helped me see the important things that need to be done throughout the day. If it's not on the list and it's near the end of the day, it gets rescheduled. My biggest enemy is the unknown things such as traffic, rescheduled meetings, and urgent but unimportant tasks. Don't they know my time is important??? Not… :-)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I actually try to get my top priority item done before I leave the house in the morning. I have way more control at home than I do at the office. This means I get in at about 8:30 rather than 8:00, but it's a good feeling to know that I have taken care of the most important item already.

  • Dave Yankowiak

    Excellent run-down of the things that cause us to work more (inefficiently) than we should. I'm finding that of these, for me the three biggies are internet, email, and not starting the day with a to-do list. I've been reading Leo Babauta's "Power of Less" and he really goes after these three things. It's helped me plan out when I check email and make sure I've got my 3 main tasks planned for the next day before I end the current day. It's really been helping so far.
    My recent post A Giveaway And A Deal…

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Planning the next day's work is especially helpful. I also like planning the upcoming week on Sunday evenings.

  • Peter Horn

    YYour ability to consistently post quality-packed insights with action steps is both abundantly instructive and inspirational. It's helping me in my personal life and professionally as well. So THANKS! I find myself asking, "Where were people like this when I was 30 (I'm 50)? Hopefully, through being mentored by you from a distance, people will be asking the same question about me when I'm 70, 80, 90, and 100. :-)
    My recent post ServeFest

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks. That is very kind of you to say so, Peter.

  • http://twitter.com/emuelle1 @emuelle1

    When I first encounted David Allen's "Getting Things Done", one of the key selling points to me was a bullet on the back: "Feel good about what you're not doing". That meant a lot to me. At that point, I was neglecting a lot of things and feeling bad about all of it.

    I'm in a situation now where I have very little to actually do, and no meetings. It's not the best phase of my career. I guess I don't miss the meetings. I work for a manager who claims to be too busy to get anything done. The problem is, as busy as she claims to be, there's no observable evidence that anything productive gets done. I think the managers in this company spin their wheels at meetings and get little done, but they're always busy. I never understood that mentality. Most of the meetings I've been in have been wastes of time.
    My recent post Finally, The Differences Between Web Browsers Explained

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      You make an important distinction: busyness and productivity are two entirely different things.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/brettinsurance Brett Cohrs

    I'm a sales professional who has my own book of business along with recently being more integrated into a veteran colleague's book; hence, my responsibilities doubled (at least) yet for some reason, the time is still the exact same.

    I just found David Allen's book, but almost find the listing idea more overwhelming than helpful. I see you use 'Things' for Mac. Any idea what a comparable package might be for a PC?

    One of the things that has helped me however, is knocking out the 2 minute tasks immediately while just plain turning off the phone and the computer for a hour a few times a day so the 'urgent' calls and emails do not distract me from important projects that I need to focus on for extended periods of time. Normally, 'urgent' simply means within the work day, not within 5 minutes.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I'm afraid I don't know of a comparable program for the PC. Of course, you could always switch to a Mac. ;-)

      Seriously, I used to use the GTD Outlook add-in. I found that pretty helpful, but it was several years ago. Thanks.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/ronlane Ron Lane

    This is definitely something to remember and re-read. If someone were to read this every Monday for a couple of months plus put it into action, they would be a LONG way ahead in their business and personal lives.

  • Ed Roden

    The meeting thing is my biggest struggle – I actually just canceled a couple and added some blocked time to my calendar (was irritated last night that somebody added something to my lunch hour, and I let them!). Going in now to cancel out of a few other meetings!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Good for you. I doubt that any of us will get to the end of our lives and say, "You know, I only have one regret: I wish I could have gone to more meetings!”

    • http://twitter.com/andrewmarconi @andrewmarconi

      In addition to having too many meetings, I think meetings are generally too long. By default, Outlook schedules for 1 hour… so I decided to start booking them for 30 minutes instead (or, for when more complicated tasks need to be completed, 45 minutes).

      The result has been that [1] people have started showing up on time rather than wandering in 10-15 minutes late, [2] everything still gets done, and [3] I have more time to get more accomplished in my day.
      My recent post Weekly Digest for 11 March 2010

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

        Changing the meeting default is a GREAT idea! Thanks.

  • http://recuperandoiltempo.wordpress.com/ Andrea

    Thank you for this article, Michael.
    I really appreciate the HONESTY with whom you write about your life.

  • http://twitter.com/eddybadrina @eddybadrina

    Great list Mike. #8 is really key for a lot of people, myself included. Someone once mentioned to me that they keep a simple little 3×5 in their pocket containing a checklist of the 5 most important (not necessarily urgent) things they have to do that day. That has helped me to overcome #8.
    My recent post How to Stay On Top Of Your Game – Read, Read, Read

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      It is easy to make things more complicated than they need to be. For me, this simply leads to procrastination. Simple is better!

  • Andy

    About 35-years-ago, as a confirmed workaholic, I asked myself the question, "Why am I doing this?" As I began to think it through I realized that work, while a good thing, is really a means to an end; that end being to provide for my family and to have enough left over to enjoy life and to set something aside for the future. By confusing the means for the end, I was robbing from my wife and children something that was rightfully theirs–my time and attention. Since then I've learned to accept less so I could give more, if that makes sense, by deliberately avoiding positions that require too much of my time and attention. It may be one of the best decisions I ever made.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I discovered in my 40s that work was a little like golf. If I got stressed and tighten my grip, my shots ended up in the rough. The key is to relax the grip and not try so hard. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it has worked for me.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jaledwith Andrew

    Point six, being a perfectionist, is what kills me. Your example of thinking something will only take a minute or two, when in fact it ends up taking much longer, is one way it manifests in my work. The other way is when I recognize that a project will take an awfully long time and I can't see when I'll ever have the time to complete it in a way that measures up to "my personal standards." So instead I never even get started. I think I need a dose of reality, too. I'm not Rembrandt; I'm just editing text and code.
    My recent post The Jumping Joe Meme

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Amen to that. Some of us just need a little perspective!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/MaurilioAmorim MaurilioAmorim

    Great insight Mike. I also find that keeping late hours at the office often diminish returns. Usually after 5 I'm tired, my thinking is not as sharp and I have a tendency to wonder online even more.
    My recent post The Case for Competition: Another Reason the Post Office Sucks

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      In my early career, I would stay late. Then I noticed that I didn't feel any urgency through the day. I just thought, “No need to rush; I’m going to be here until 7:00 or so.”

  • http://twitter.com/eddybadrina @eddybadrina

    Great list Mike. #8 is really key for a lot of people, myself included. Someone once mentioned to me that they keep a simple little 3×5 in their pocket containing a checklist of the 5 most important (not necessarily urgent) things they have to do that day. That has helped me to overcome #8.

  • http://www.yuzzi.com Rick Yuzzi

    I often start my day trying to catch up on what is going on in the industry, which means a lot of surfing, sifting through newsletters, etc. That can take a lot of time, and I can get lost it in for too long. I also write a lot as part of my job, and I am a bot of a perfectionist when it comes to that. I edit, re-edit, and edit again. Certain communication does not require that level of quality. Once again, great advice. I am going to go make my to-do list right now. 1) Read Michael Hyatt's blog. 2)….. :-)

    • http://www.yuzzi.com Rick Yuzzi

      A "bot" of a perfectionist. Good for me! Didn't edit this one. :-)

  • Jim Martin

    This is a very good post. I relate to this well. In particular, I have been thinking about my use of time on the Internet. Even as I was reading your post, I stopped when I saw the link to "Things." I chased that link and then went somewhere else before I remembered that I had not even finished reading this post.

    When it dawned on me what I had done, I thought "This is great. I'm reading a post about time and busyness and I am chasing a link or two (which could have waited until later).

    Anyway, thanks for a timely post.
    My recent post What Has Helped You Feel Less Self-Conscious?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Maybe my external links aren’t that helpful after all!

  • Jabulani

    Fabulous read. Thank you. Wish I could get my husband to look at this and implement it!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your encouragement! I’m glad you found it helpful.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/aaronstrongarm Aaron Armstrong

    Thanks for the helpful/convicting/encouraging reminders; distraction for me is a big one (#2 & 3) as well as my need to tweak and fiddle to make everything "just right." It drives my wife crazy sometimes.

    Looking at some of these points, have you read "Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It"? Give it a read – you'll love it. Seriously.
    My recent post Book Review: Free Book by Brian Tome

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I have it, but I have not read it. It is a great title!

      • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/aaronstrongarm Aaron Armstrong

        It is – I hope you enjoy it; I'd love to hear your thoughts on it when you're done.
        My recent post Book Review: Free Book by Brian Tome

  • Scoti Domeij

    I love the calendar on my Mac where I can schedule blocks of time to attend to priorities. I cared for a severely disabled individual 24/7. His favorite part of the day was watching "The Price Is Right" at 10 AM, but that's the time his PT providers and other people on his team preferred to schedule their appointments with him. I received push back from two people who scheduled their appointments back to back for their convenience. Because he couldn't speak for himself, I finally blocked out the time on my calendar to make sure he kept his appointment with the highlight of his day. I loved being able to say, "Let me check his calendar. Oh, sorry 10 AM is taken."
    My recent post Finding Balance

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      That is exactly how I use these appointments with myself. Who can argue?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/patriciazell patriciazell

    Thanks again, Michael for a timely post–I'm going to print it off tonight. I would add prioritizing goals to the list. I've actually had to make some tough decisions this school year because I can't do everything all at the same time and I can't be everything to everyone who "needs" me. I have three major goals–teach my students well, work on my book (writing it through posts and preparing to find a publisher and to market it), and keep my husband happy (he is!). My children and grandchildren haven't seen that much of me, but they'll survive and summer is coming!. My goals for the summer can be summed up in one word–overhaul. Since I am planning major overhauls in my work spaces at home and school, in my blog as I finish my book, and in my appearance which needs updating, I would appreciate a little prayer from everyone. : )
    My recent post #34 THE DOING OF BELIEVING: FAITH (2)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      You got it, Patrica. Praying now …

  • http://sunshines-view.blogspot.com/ Tiffany Cox

    Call me stupid. I never take 10 extra minutes to make a to-do list. I never saw it as saving me time in the long run. After reading this, I see how that time investment could actually gain me time in the end. Why was that hidden from me until now? Maybe it's being a stay-at-home mom to 3 kids four and under? I'm off to try a to-do list today to see if it will indeed make good returns on my time. Thanks so much!

    Your blog rocks! Very motivating. I'm now running and making to-do lists. And I love it! You have seriously impacted my life, Mr. Hyatt. Thank you.
    My recent post Grateful to Have Girls

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Tiffany. You are kind to say so.

      Please report back on how the to-do list works out for you!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

    I do all these things. And I also pop into your office and distract you. I'm going to get better about that. Or try to!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Actually, I love it when you pop in. You do a great job of balancing socializing and getting to the point. The last thing I want to do is discourage that. Seriously, don’t change a thing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1116524763 Peter Eleazar

    For years I was taught that outputs are all that matter, but to God inputs matter more. We sow, another waters, He adds the increase. A business leader added "I take care of the cents, the Dollars take care of themselves". An output worldview is a performance trap, but an input worldview is a simplifier. Think in terms of a product line. Many workers never see the outcomes, but their contributions beget great outcomes. Successful sales people aim to see X people, convert Y leads and then close Z sales – yet, many lesser salesmen work the outcomes by chasing targets – and as such often spin in the mud. The trick is to make our inputs count.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/MichaelSGray MichaelSGray

    I identify most strongly with #6 and #7 — perfectionism and the hesitancy to delegate. To me, the two go hand-in-hand because my quest for perfectionism causes me to think (falsely) that no one will be able to do it the way it needs to be done, so I'll just do it myself. I have recently begun to learn that I need to see my work in terms of "right" or "not-right" rather than looking through the lens of perfect.

    I'm also guilty of telling my wife, "I'll be there in a few minutes, hon." Boy, those minutes really fly by! :)
    My recent post Glenn Beck & Social Justice

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I agree that perfectionism and a failure to delegate go hand-in-hand. Guilt as charged!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/halhunter halhunter

    To my way of thinking 3,4 and 10 are linked. When that block of pre-allocated time for work comes, put the phones on service, turn off the cell ringer, log off the computer, and close the office door. If the fire alarm goes off, OK. Otherwise, I am just not available for a while. Makes for much improved productivity.

  • Kim Pagel

    Great post. I identify with all 10 and could add a few of my own! I'm working on this stuff but old habits are hard to break. I recently came across the Management Tools web site and podcast. http://www.manager-tools.com/podcasts/manager-too… There is a drop down menu where you can find the podcasts that are of interest to you. They have a three-part series on working with an Admin that is fantastic. This, along with GTD, has been a big help to me. At least I know I'm working at the right stuff! Thanks for posting and for sharing your journey with all of us.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      This looks like a great site. I am definitely going to listen to some of these!

  • http://www.facebook.com/FourFecta Mitch Ebie

    I am especially glad you posted this one…I needed a little reminder, ha-ha. The irony is that I am avoiding something right now so I can post a comment, ha-ha. I would recommend the book "the four hour work week" by Tim F. The book is up in the clouds at times, but over-all I thought it was great. He talks about avoiding meetings whenever possible as they generally are a waste of time, much of the time that is true. He also has an automatic email response go out that includes a FAQ. This allows him to avoid some email questions. He also is a huge proponent of outsourcing, which is essentially delegating.

    If any of you ever see me at borders or a coffee shop doing work, I will have my headphones in but I am usually not listening to music. This deters people from talking to me. Do not misunderstand, I love casual conversation, but not when I am focused on work.

    favorite quote these days: Do not let perfect get in the way of progress.
    My recent post What are some PRINCIPLES that you live by?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I loved the 4 Hour Work Week. I found it hugely helpful. Tim Ferriss, the author, is a genius. Very creative. His blog is excellent, too.

      • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/mitchebie Mitch Ebie

        I have been applying his methods to my business wherever possible. I have also been learning quite a bit from Gary Vaynerchuk …your posts are proving to be very helpful as well :)
        My recent post What are some PRINCIPLES that you live by?

  • http://www.randalldean.com Randall Dean, MBA

    Great list! I will share this with my followers and e-newsletter subscribers! I preach every day about the distractions and productivity loss that "immediate e-mail" creates as well as discuss extensively in my book, Taming the E-mail Beast — the addiction to online tools is almost getting epidemic, but we all have the capability to exert ownership over our online tools rather than letting them own us. We have to make the choice, or suffer the consequences.

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  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/endlesslyrestless endlesslyrestless

    Aye – sounds like you've been eavesdropping on my nightmare/reality. This post is so close to describing my current position that it made me laugh out loud. Please don't take this the wrong way but I was glad to see that you were feeling overwhelmed – in that

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I mostly just write posts to myself and let others listen in ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/johnataylor @johnataylor

    Thanks Mike,

    A gentle reminder brought to me in a timely fashion.

    Appreciate your openness.

    Beginning my reevaluation . . .

  • http://www.danyasteele.wordpress.com Danya Steele

    So true! Thanks for posting this. It got me to take out my pad right now and give myself a time-limit. (I've been kind of lingering all day. Drinking more coffee than actually getting stuff done as I'd wanted.)

    And tomorrow, I'm starting out with that Task List. Very true. My days go totally diff with these simple yet effective tips.

    Thank you!
    My recent post “Africa Gathering” – Washington D.C., April 2010

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/AndrewComings AndrewComings

    Oh my! Was not expecting today's post to be quite so convicting. There should be a warning sign: do not read this unless you want to be convicted!

    Seriously, I could identify with about half of the 10 reasons.
    My recent post Book Review: American Caesar

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Ha! I'll include a warning next time!

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/bgallen BG Allen

    Excellent counsel. Just e-mailed the link to our key leaders. In our ministry we are working with our leaders to be more "balanced" in their approach to work. So many are driven by the mission that we have to help them pace themselves.

    thank you for sharing with us "out here".
    My recent post More “Lessons of Leadership” from George Whitefield

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/lukeionacademy Cynthia C. Cutright

    What a great post. It has given me the needed push to develop my own shirk list and re-evaluate my priorities. For me, my "to-do" list doesn't guide my day, I spend way too much time surfing, I don't delegate or schedule time for work, and I too am a perfectionist. I however work from home as well as attend college online.

    Thanks for the post and motivation!
    My recent post How is a paradigm formed?

  • http://www.twitter.com/danieldecker Daniel Decker

    Great list and precisely why I am reading at 9:10pm my time. I've learned the hard way. :) I now give myself windows. 30 minutes in the morning for blog reading and an hour or so at night after the kids go to bed. I bookmark sites via Twitter, etc throughout the day and go back to them more thoroughly later. I don't watch much TV so I spend time at night reading blogs, etc (so that I can keep my focus on tasks during the day).

    Being self employed has forced me to really try to maximize my time. I'm constantly reflecting and adjusting based on work load and on my natural rhythm, which fluctuates seasonally. Always looking for Time Bandits that need to be removed.

    My biggest problem is just saying no. Not always no to others but no to myself. I have a gazillion ideas, some are good and some are great (to me at least). Trying to stay focused on the GREAT vs letting the GOOD distract.

  • http://progressforge.com Mark Mathson


    I feel your pain. It is often common of achievers to push themselves, and subsequently their families, to the limit at times.

    Its always important to take a step back, breathe, prepare for that next step, and then take it.

    Your point #6 reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

    "Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials." – Lin Yutang
    My recent post Hitting Home Runs in Your Life

  • http://twitter.com/jmarkarnold @jmarkarnold

    Another great insightful post–and it shows how real you are. I have also found that in addition to scheduling time for work you must also schedule time to rest. If I don't get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night then I'm groggy and tend to miss my morning run. Good rest enables you to be a better worker and a better spouse. Rest is a weapon.

    Think Huge!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words.

      I couldn’t agree more about rest. In fact, this is a huge priority for me. When I don't get enough sleep, everything starts falling apart.

  • http://wesbleed.com/blog Wes Bleed

    Michael: Well said. At one time I turned off the alert in Outlook that flashes the image of your latest email because I always jumped to click on it to see what it was. Talk about getting interrupted! I suggest checking emal once or twice an hour.
    My recent post Focus on the Next Race

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/daveanthold daveanthold

    Recently I have found myself not sleeping well, working far too many hours, and leaving no room for exercising. So I changed things up a bit – M,W, F – I begin my work day at 4:30am – leaving the office at 2:30 or 3pm & hitting the trails for some mtn biking. T, Th – I teach & tutor & recover from the previous days work. Beginning in a couple of weeks, I will hike/ride on the weekends. This has greatly helped my productivity.

    • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/diabetic77 diabetic77

      Have to agree, being involved in the medical field now I feel that things will relax a little knowing that my selected field is pretty secure with the passage of this new healthcare bill. It should be bringing in plenty of new business down the road BUT that just means I will be busier at work and probably have to work longer hours. The important thing is to make a list of what you need to do the next day and stay focused on doing it. At least this has worked for me.

      It gets me home at a decent hour and allows me to spend some quality time with my family.

      My recent post 2010 Catalogs Are Now Available!

  • http://www.kemerresort.com/ gualetar

    The subject is fully clear but why does the text lack clarity? But in general your blog is great.

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  • http://blog.brodzinski.com Pawel Brodzinski

    I'd add:

    Deciding what doesn't need any work from you and immediately throwing it out of the list. Personally I often have a task on todo list for weeks before realizing I don't (and didn't) have to do anything about this. It's just distracting clutter.

    Wise (limited) distractions during the day. I mean self-initiated ones like grabbing yet another coffee or water-cooler chit-chat etc. They are important to take a short break and get back to work with strong focus but they are often overdosed, like hour-long chat etc.
    My recent post Agile Bullshit: Agile Presentations Are So Naive

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff

    Stumbled upon this while "mindlessly surfing the web." Oops. At any rate, it was great and I'm guilty of all these. Thanks for being real and calling us perfectionists out.
    My recent post Life Is Full of Bullies

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  • Makeda

    I'm guilty of a lot of these; gotta work on that. Thanks for sharing these.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/ladybug010 Devon Smith

    Great post! It is so hard to stay on track when there are emergencies and urgent deadlines that come in without plan every day. Sticking it out and slogging through your to do list isn't always easy. Your post makes great points about identifying the trouble issues and being aware of them. Work life balance is important, and setting a schedule and sticking to it is harder than it sounds.
    I wrote a post about finding worth in those hard days here: http://ladybug010.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/findin
    My recent post Lay Siege to your Servers

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/nyurian nyurian

    great post bro…

  • http://www.unwilling2settle.com Greg Gilbert

    Michael, great information. One of my mentors explained it to me in the bucket story. Go to http://www.unwilling2settle.com and click the big red sample button on the top left. Really enjoy your blogs. Greg

  • Christine Sine

    I was a little surprised and also disappointed by your list of why you aren't done yet. It seems to me that the major reason we allow work to consume us (and if yo work until 10 pm most evenings even with a break to be with your family then work is consuming you) is because we misunderstand God's priorities. Work becomes the focus of our day rather then a way to draw both ourselves and others closer to God and God's kingdom purposes. When I feel consumed by the "I am not done yet?" syndrome I find that the best solution to take some time off, to slow down and sit quietly in God's presence – not talking to God but listening and allowing God to talk to me. It is often in that quiet place that I am able to refocus my priorities which usually means slowing down and ignoring the things that have little if anything to do with what God wants me to be doing

    • http://Followtheleaguer.com Tazmin Ivey

      Christine, I agree with your point of view, but why couldn’t both theories work hand in hand? I find spending quiet time with God in the morning helps maintain perspective throughout the day, but there is some undeniable wisdom in using productivity tools to help manage our time effectively.

  • http://twitter.com/mholloway49 @mholloway49

    Excellent list. I would add this. When you have something to talk to someone about face-to-face, go to their office. You then can control the agenda and the time.


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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KCCY5XVMOETIW7AXFTNHLL5R7E Medical Supply

    After reading this post, it has motivated me to become more directed in my daily tasks. Thanks for the insight and continue to provide great content.

    Daniel at QuickMedical http://www.quickmedical.com

  • jameskirk

    reason # 1 you cant be done yet because the word done refers the the donenes or temp of food so you would have to be cooked in a oven to be done its are you finished 

  • http://www.ginktage.com/ Senthil Kumar B

    Well , all i would like to say is that the article relates perfectly to my day to day activities Work . Making a TODO list is finr for the day , but when Allowing people to drop in without an agenda happens frequently , you tend to be more unproductive and end up working late to complete them :)

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