Small but Packing a Punch
Your brain is powerful. Although small in size and weighing in at only three pounds, it carries a memory capacity size of roughly 2.5 petabytes which equates to around one million gigabytes. Research shows that on average, humans are exposed to 34 GB of information on a daily basis. This consistent bombardment can overload a laptop in a week or two but our brains may take years before it reach maximum capacity. We may not reach our brain’s maximum capacity but we can attest to being overwhelmed at one point.
Too much Task, Not Enough Time
We are as busy as ever yet the question begs, “Are we more productive?” We have plenty of tasks, assignments, and meetings but all this can become overwhelming when we know that time is not changing. We still have 24 hours in a day. Sometimes, this overwhelming feeling can cause bottlenecks in our lives; Instances where it seems like there is just too much to do and so little time. We end up sacrificing other important areas such as much needed sleep to make up time but we find ourselves less productive because rest is key to remaining productive.
The Reality of Traffic
Think about a road that has four lanes, but as you continue to drive, the lanes start to merge and eventually you come to standstill. Four lanes have become two and the same numbers of cars have to go through. The flow is disrupted. Life can feel like that sometimes, creating bottlenecks. But is it possible to overcome the bottlenecks and continue to thrive by reducing massive constraints on our progress? Let me show you how a simple three step process I call, “Burn the Fat, Build the Muscle” can help overcome bottlenecks in life.
Burn the Fat, Build the Muscle
There is a myth that you can convert fat into muscle which is simply not true. Fat and muscle are two types of body tissue structured differently. Muscle is active while fat is passive. You must burn one and build the other.
The first step is to eliminate or reduce time wasters which I compare with burning fat. Time wasters take up room in our lives that could be occupied with more useful activities. Two of the biggest time wasters that add “excess fat” around our thoughts and imagination is the junk food of worry and fear. What excess fat is to the heart, worry and fear are to the mind; dangerous. Fear will cause a cardiac arrest in our creativity, passion, diligence, determination, faith, hope, and love.
Our intake is critical to burning off this fat. How much of the information you are exposed to daily is creating worry in your mind? It’s time to cancel those feeds and turn off some of the notifications that have become the doorway for mental plaque. There are other time wasters such as binge watching TV, social media, procrastinating, saying “yes” to everyone and everything, and having too many options. Too many options make us kick the can down the street on decisions that if made sooner rather than later will aid in keeping our lives free from bottle necks.
The second step, which is part of building muscle, is mindful planning. You do this by first, paying attention to distractions. The greatest weapon against a disciplined person is distraction. The temptation to click on that notification, that news flash, or sign up for that free trial. They ask for small amounts of time but in the cumulative they eat up large chunks of time that could be used purposefully somewhere else. Protect your time from distractions by building a defense of intentional concentration on a useful activity for a set period of time. This defense might mean turning off your phone, setting up “no screen times” to allow sessions of laser sharp focus for maximum productivity.
Second, consider your ways. Are your daily ebbs and flows creating opportunities for you to increase your capacity thereby improving your level of effectiveness? Being mindful is being aware of things in present tense form. Most of us live on autopilot and become desensitized to the present because of routine. By being mindful, we notice underlying inefficiencies, abnormalities, and oddities. It also heightens our curiosities driving us to seek ways to change our routine by injecting some improvisation. This helps tap into new ways of thinking making us more flexible and adaptable hence more creative. For example, as a writer, I use “word prompts” to break out of creative slumps. I simply look around and pick an object and write about it. Improvisation can be as simple as taking a different way home and seeing different scenery and allow your mind to explore and process what your eyes see. This break from the norm is important to removing bottlenecks and relieving tunnel vision. It can also change your perspective for the better.
The third step is collaboration: Talking with others and discovering what other people in your position are doing can be helpful in locating the source of bottlenecks and finding ways to do more with less and accelerate progress. Collaboration requires you to become a river not a reservoir; a sharer, not a silo. As a silo, you will go through unnecessary growing pains and intense bottle-necking that could have been alleviated by sharing. Going back to the example of traffic, on some highways it is normal for a lane to end, with a merge sign indicating this. In this instance, the drivers, though they may not know each other have to work together, share the road, and collaborate to prevent a bottleneck. Life is lived best where collaboration exists. Even our Creator said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” We live our best and most productive lives when we network, interact, and collaborate with others. I found this out when my two-year-old daughter went to a Bible camp for a week and came back talking more fluently and able to recite the first four books of the Bible’s New Testament. Reciprocity (give and take) is how great collaborations function. At this stage, who can you collaborate with to eliminate bottlenecks in your life?
Challenge Corner: We all face bottlenecks at some point or another. The challenge is recognizing them and finding way to relieve the pressure or eliminate them altogether. Please share in the comments section which of the three steps is most challenging and how you plan to turn the tide in your favor.
Always cheering you on
Keep on Keeping on!