Too much freedom, not enough oomph

We’re writing our second book, and having lots of conversations about motivation (and lack thereof). There’s a paradox between wanting more time and freedom in order to achieve the big things we only dream about doing ‘if we won lotto’, versus the reality: the having too much time on your hands can suck every ounce of oomph.

Employers will often say they love employing parents, because they’re more focussed. There’s a hard deadline each day, for childcare pickup, and that makes it so much easier to prioritise and get things done. At the other end of the spectrum, people will often go on long service leave with huge goals to renovate a house or try out a new hobby or potential business idea, only to return to work sheepishly six months later and say they ‘wasted’ the time off.

While we have issues with the concept of ‘asking a busy person’, we understand why it exists. The more you do, the less time you have, the more focused you are, the quicker you’ll achieve something. Boundaries, limits and deadlines tend to work well for toddlers and teenagers, and they tend to for many of us, too.

The days when the two of us are most productive are when we check in by phone each hour, and each set an hour’s worth of tasks. Knowing we’re reporting back to each other is just the incentive we need to stay focussed — even though nothing ‘bad’ is going to happen if we don’t follow through for some reason. In the absence of a ‘boss’, we’ve become our own bosses — not only in terms of freedom of scope, but in installing helpful boundaries and expectations.

There’s something incredibly demotivating about being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want. It’s like living in a gorgeous city for decades but never seeing the sights because they’re always there. Why do today what we could do literally any other day in the rest of our lives? We’ll start tomorrow… or whenevs.

Left to our own devices, it’s easy to down tools and wait for (or manufacture) a bit of urgency, in much the same way as a person can’t be bothered to improve their health until there’s an invitation to an upcoming event and a dress that doesn’t fit.

Regular accountability can really transform this. Committing out loud to doing something, then having someone follow up on that commitment can be enough to push us off the couch or into that important work document or to the doctor.

Committing to just enough is the other trick. Just as having way too much time on our hands isn’t helpful, having way too much to do can push us into stagnation. Both situations can lead to us chastising ourselves over our avoidance of the very progress that would vastly improve our lives and careers.

One simple fix that is working for lots of our clients is our Fast Forward Coaching structure. It’s a no-fuss, simple way to set realistic goals, stay accountable and move forward, fast, with momentum. We’re looking for just a handful of new clients and then our books will be full for the rest of the year. If this would interest you, either through your work or privately, let us know if you’d like to find out more.

Have a great week!

Emma & Audrey x

Ps. We only have a limited number of places available in our Fast Forward Coaching @ Work program – and right now you can save $400. These new spaces will fill fast, so if you’re keen to know more, head over here.

About The Author

Emma Grey & Audrey Thomas

Audrey Thomas and Emma Grey are productivity experts, authors of 'I Don't Have Time' and its forthcoming sequel 'I Can't Be Bothered', and co-founders of the popular online program, My 15 Minutes. They help busy women reclaim their time and energy around the real-life challenges of modern life.

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