Well, if you decide not to go to work, then your boss will moan, and ultimately you could lose your job (or, if you’re the boss, your business will go bust). If you don’t pay your bills, then all sorts of things could get cut off, and you could end up in court. And if you don’t go shopping, you won’t have anything to eat. It’s all very ‘cause and effect’, with the effect nearly always being something rather bad happening to you. And, because we humans will do almost anything to avoid pain, we naturally focus on getting our THEM tasks done as a matter of priority.
So, if you want to spend more time with your family, it means you’ll need to increase your ME time. But that’s where you encounter a snag. The problem with ME tasks is that no one complains if they don’t get done. You might reflect ruefully on yet another day when you didn’t spend any quality time with the kids, but otherwise, no big boss is berating you for not putting in a ME shift (other than your kids, who didn’t get to see you). And this is a big problem. We tend to do ME tasks only after all the THEM tasks are out of the way. We actively prioritise THEM tasks because we get some grief if we don’t do them. And if there’s no time left after we’ve completed the THEM tasks, then not only do the ME tasks not get done, but no one gives us any grief either.
Hopefully, you can see that this is a major own goal. How can spending time with your kids (or whatever ME task you have in mind) be relegated to last place in your priorities? Surely, it should be first? Your THEM tasks can’t really be more important than seeing your kids, can they? So, what’s the solution?
The answer is straightforward, but it requires a bit of a mindset shift and some good, old-fashioned discipline. Essentially you have to start prioritising ME tasks over THEM tasks. You shouldn’t have a problem rationalising WHY your ME tasks are more important to you than THEM tasks. However, your instinctive reaction will be to start worrying about all the grief you’ll get from all quarters if you spend less time on your THEM tasks. After all, you can’t simply give up the day job and spend time with your children instead, can you?
But here’s the thing; have you ever noticed what happens at work the day before you go on holiday? It’s usually manically busy because you’re ensuring that all the super-important jobs get done, the not-so-important jobs get done by someone else while you’re away, and the rest will just have to stay undone until you get back. Yet not once have you NOT gone on holiday. There hasn’t been a single occasion when your workload meant you had to cancel your holiday plans, nor did you get fired when you returned for recklessly abandoning your station. In fact, you’re usually quite pleasantly surprised to find that no disasters occurred while you were away AND, miraculously, you’re back up to date within half a day of returning. This should tell you something very important, namely that when you put an immovable object in your diary, you will always manage all the THEM tasks in your life to accommodate it.
So, if you want to spend more time with your kids, you simply need to make it an immovable object. It needs to become a sacred event that always happens no matter what. It must never get cancelled, and it must never get foreshortened (after all, you’ve never come back from holiday early because some filing needed doing, have you?). When you do this, several things will happen. Firstly, you will become much more efficient at doing THEM tasks. Your ability to prioritise, delegate and defer tasks that you somehow manage to do so admirably the day before each holiday will now become a daily practice. You won’t need to think about it because it will automatically happen, just like any other immovable object in your diary.