Productive, or Just Busy? It’s Time to Take Control of Your Life

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Are you in control? People get up, have breakfast and race to work crushed into trains, buses, traffic jams. Some are talking on mobiles, some look fraught, others just quietly reading their book or Kindle to take their mind off the day looming ahead.

Do they look happy as if they can’t wait to get to the office and start work? Is this because they love what they do – or are they under so much pressure they need to use every single second to get their workload completed? They leave at the end of the day, looking harassed and tired, repeating the morning’s nightmare, hoping to relax. Is this really what it’s all about? Is this how we were meant to live?

In the age of technology let’s use it to rectify the situation. It has taken us hostage. We are its slave and do as it commands. Have you seen a mobile phone left to ring? If it’s not in someone’s hand they run to answer it as though something dreadful will happen if it’s not dealt with immediately. Yet that person can leave a message. We don’t even know who is calling. Is it really necessary? Are our friends and family less important?

Rows of children, looking like adults in their twenties, lean against walls, eyes glued on their mobile reading a message sent by the person standing next to them! In a world full of connections we are becoming more disconnected with our friends and family. The law defines the number of hours we should work but how many are available to our workmates, boss and clients 24/7?

The more hours you work the less productive you become – so who are you hurting now? Prioritise everything followed by short, highly concentrated, productive sessions, a far better system than doing long, drawn-out, ineffectual work.

A colleague recently returned from maternity leave said she would be working once she got
home as usual. Can you wonder that marriages are breaking up and children ignore their parents and misbehave? I asked her why she would be working tonight. Her response? She usually did! A routine like that destroys family life. I suggested that she go home, open a bottle of wine and spend some time talking to her husband and her children. It was her time!

We feel obliged to work longer hours rather than do the things we really want to do. We don’t have time for friends, family, museums, films, evening classes or restaurants. I was told “You shouldn’t have any ‘I wish I’ds’.” That phone call you have been meaning to make but never got round to – and now you have lost a friend or a relative and you cannot tell them the things you always wanted to say.

Cherish each moment you are with someone you care about. Your children, if you have them, will grow up and leave home. We should relish every minute we have by connecting with the people we care about. Our friends and family are our mainstay.

Seize the moment! We must take control if our lives. Turn the mobile off! Is that a dreadful thing to say? Take time to speak with each other – it is the only true way to really connect – to hear the happiness, sadness, worry or hilarity in another person’s voice, to see the body language, the attitude, the ambience.

A friend returning from holiday deletes all his emails. His policy – if it’s important they will send it again. Prioritise what’s important, what’s next and what isn’t then you will perform to the best of your ability.

On the Global Challenge Yacht Race we lived in a watch system – half of us slept and half worked – six hours on six hours off and four hours on four hours off at night. If we weren’t sleeping when we should have been we were told to! Each day one person from each watch would come out of that watch to do motherwatch – the household chores, cleaning the heads (bathroom), cooking and checking the engines. Once the chores were done they could relax, sleep, read, go on deck – in readiness to start the next week of work.

We need our downtime so that we are fresh to start the next week more efficiently and effectively.

“Nothing we can do can change the past, but everything we do changes the future.” Ashleigh Brilliant”

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About Author

Rona Cant

Rona Cant is an explorer, international speaker and author. Once an unexceptional, middle-aged single parent she became a round-the-world yachtswoman by competing in the BT Global Challenge Round the World Yacht Race (the toughest yacht race in the world). For the last 10 years she has been putting together programmes on leadership and teamwork, and motivating businesses and individuals to get out of their comfort zone and reach their potential based on the lessons learnt on her expeditions. Her second book, Snow, Sleds & Silence – the Story of the Nordkapp Expedition describes the ups and downs of her epic adventure on this trail, which lead her to establish Arctic Leadership Challenges which offers experiential training inside the Arctic Circle for individuals and teams.

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