Our personal capacity is finite – including our professional capacity. Many successful (as defined by having happiness, balance and career satisfaction) people have a few key habits in common that allow them to respect their capacity. For example, writer and researcher Robin Sharma has found that those who are most likely to be successful commit to a morning routine, adopt a healthy regime and know when to power down.
However, all professionals are susceptible to three capacity-sabotaging behaviors. No one is immune to them, but we can all become more aware.
A study from the University of California Irvine found that we are distracted every eight minutes of the day. What is more shocking is that it takes us approximately 23 minutes to get back on task. This is an enormous amount of lost productivity. Perhaps our distracted behavior is because the average person will have at least seven computer windows open at the same time (according to “The Overflowing Brain” by Torkel Klingberg) or because we check our phones over 221 times per day.
Not all distractions are created equal. Many of us are also distracted by opportunity – addicted to the next offer, the next promotion or the next high-profile assignment. Distraction is the death of productivity. Being disciplined in who we give our attention to and where we spend it has never been so crucial to our performance and mental health. Our attention is one of our most precious commodities. We need to fiercely protect it by implementing a daily routine that will set us up for success.
Waiting for motivation to show up will rob you of some of your capacity. Mel Robbins, the author of “The 5 Second Rule,” writes that we can overcome over our personal barriers by counting down from 5. She says that when we wait for motivation, we could be waiting a long time.
Think about something you have been waiting to be motivated to achieve. Have you accomplished that goal yet? Take fitness as an example. Think back to the time when you were at your physical peak. You were consistently at the gym or sticking to your fitness routine. There was a driving force feeding your consistency and your resolve to follow through each day. However, with age, our resolve is tested or interrupted by life events, such as a growing family, increased responsibilities at work or aging parents. Fast-forward to the present day. Maybe you’re waiting for the motivation to show up in order to set goals to become fit again, or lose that extra 10 pounds, or eat better … and the list goes on.
Based on her research, Robbins believes that motivation is a myth. She says that our brains are wired to protect us from things that are difficult. Therefore, if we wait for motivation, we will never achieve our goals, because our primal brain is working against us instinctively to protect us. We need to find a deeper meaning for what we want to accomplish. That deeper meaning will be the anchor that keeps us committed to our goal for the long term.
Over-commitment is also called indulgent capacity. It is when you find yourself spending a lot of time focused on opportunities that are fueled by new initiatives – so much so that you have many seemingly small commitments. What most of us don’t realize (until it’s too late) is that these “small” commitments start to stack up and become unachievable.
This is a hard pill to swallow for high-capacity individuals. At any given time, we are forced to make tough decisions and leave current obligations unaccounted for while we tend to other commitments. Some of us may get it all done, but not without error. If you are a people-pleaser, you may find yourself saying “yes” too often without pausing to think of the repercussions. The cycle will repeat until you find yourself in a “depleted capacity zone.” In order to stay out of this zone, it’s imperative to align your values with your commitments. Saying no is difficult for most of us. However, when you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. Being discerning in your decision-making allows you to be in total control of your capacity.