Ever felt like this fella in the photo? Most of us, from time to time, experience the feeling of being a mouse on a spinning wheel: running hard but going nowhere. And perhaps, this is the way life has always been.
A frantic pace with fragmented peace.
Sometimes this wheel spinning kind of life:
- Is a result of being successful. We’ve worked hard and the resultant incoming work and promotions have created that “keep up, frantic, do what it takes momentum.”
- Is due to having grown up on the tools, taken orders and got used to a reactive schedule. Then, when we’ve gone into some form of leadership we still operate in those same kinds of “wheel spinning ways.”
- Happens because we want to do our very best and don’t want to disappoint others.
- Is related to an inner sense of, “if I am busy then people will deem me to be successful.”
- Is driven out of an inner disquiet. “If I keep myself active I won’t have time to think about all the shit in my life” or, “I’ve got too much on to deal with this now.” (Ten years later we are still saying the same thing).
- Results from the all roads syndrome. Many, if not all roads within our organisations lead to us and through us and because we keep spinning, we can’t get off long enough to plan a road re-route to utilise technology and effectively delegate to others.
Jumping off the Spinning Wheel
The above are but a few of the inherent reasons for wheel spinning but there is a way out, and this is what one person I am coaching is doing.
These are the recommendations I gave him and which, in a short period of time, he has successfully adopted.
- When you are working on something, keep a writing pad beside you to write down all the other items that come to mind. This way it keeps you focused on the major item in front of you. (I recall one client saying she received a Telco bill while working on a major task, got sidetracked and two hours later arrived back to what she was originally doing). Sound familiar?
- Give your phone to administration, hit Do Not Disturb or let it go through to voicemail when working on significant tasks. Take only urgent calls but leave the rest till later.
- Schedule your days. In my client’s case it was primarily:
a. Quotes in the morning,
b. Meetings and callbacks in the afternoon.
- Plan tomorrow, today.
Simple but effective.
These are but four disciplines that are taking him from the manic pace of the spinning wheel to the planned, disciplined and productive pathway on the ground.
If you feel like you are on the spinning wheel, the only way out is by getting off, even for short periods of time: to think, to plan, to utilise technology and others and to outsource wherever you can.