“Be where your feet are.” I don’t know the origin of this quote, but I heard Bob Goff repeat it in a recent podcast interview. (I love anything Bob does and just bought his latest, Dream Big, here). While I heard this quote long ago, it resonated even more this time. During the pandemic one of the things I’ve struggled with is focus and presence. I’m always wondering what I’m missing (the answer is usually “Not much.”) and what other people are doing (the answer is usually “Not much”.). I let my mind wander, even when my feet stay at my standing desk.
But when I remember to be where my feet are, my work is better. I feel more grounded. And I’m far more productive. And, as this study shows, I’m much more likely to be happy when I’m all in with what I’m doing and not letting my mind or my feet wander.
One thing that helps me is time blocking. I’ve been time blocking since I was in law school. I’d cut index cards in half and lay out my day, hour by hour, every morning. This practice may kept me focused, productive and happy. It has helped me to create time for my feet to be where I need them to be. Time blocking has made me so effective at doing what I had to do in the time I have to do it that I actually have more time for fun. It has served me well. But many of my coaching clients hate it.
They even hate the term-time blocking. Because they find it rigid (and they don’t want to be rigid), they refuse to even consider it. So I had to come up with a new way of looking at it. Two of the tools of an advocate that I share with my clients are words and perspective. If my clients could change the way they see time blocking (perspective) and change what they call it (words), they might be more likely to embrace it. And so I went to work and found something that works for most of them.
Instead of time blocking, they use task loving. When you’re really loving something, you’re giving it all of your attention. Think about the times that you’re most full of love for your partner, your kids, your pet or even yourself. Are you also watching TV, looking at your phone or doing work? I’d bet the answer is no. I bet you’re giving that thing that you love all of your attention at that moment. Your entire focus is on that thing that you love. And that’s how you can address the tasks in your day as well.
First, you want to find a way to love the task. One of the tasks I do weekly is looking at my business’ finances. I don’t love the task. But I do investing the money that my business makes in new employees, new marketing endeavors and new education to make me a better coach. Now that I’ve found a reason to love the task, I set aside time once a week to do so. From 3-4 pm on Friday afternoons, I love accounting. I sit down in front of Quickbooks and I give my money my full attention. Nothing can distract me, and there’s nowhere else I have to be. My business account is getting all of my love.
This works for my client and part of the reason is that it isn’t about excluding the way that time blocking is. Instead, it’s including one thing in your heart and mind at a time. Mother Teresa once said “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” She was focused on loving rather than blocking out hate. You can focus on what you’re doing rather than blocking out what you aren’t. This tweak allows my clients to focus on being pro the task at hand, loving that task, rather than hating the distraction. And for them, that perspective and those words matter. It helps them to be where their feet are.
So if you get freaked out by time blocking, don’t do it. Try task loving instead. One by one, take each task you have to do in a day or a week, and write down when you’ll love it. Maybe you’ll love working on your business plan for an hour every Monday. Or maybe you’ll love making your house clean and organized for you and your family for 2 hours every Saturday morning. Decide what to love and for how long. And then go all in on your loving. Give your task all you’ve got. You’ll find yourself just as productive as if you had time blocked. When you can be where your feet are, you’ll find those feet will take you much farther.