Overcommitted? Why and how?

Overcommitted? Why and how?. Have you ever felt like there are too many meetings to attend and not
enough time on your calendar to handle it all? I was impressed with
this article a blog reader sent me (thanks Julianne!). After I read it,
I did review the next 30 days of my calendar and realized – well, yeah
– I needed to renegotiate a few agreements. Here is the intro paragraph
to the full press release:

If your appointment book runneth over, it could mean one
of two things: Either you are enviably popular or you make the same
faulty assumptions about the future as everyone else. Psychological
research points to the latter explanation. Research by two
business-school professors reveals that people over-commit because we
expect to have more time in the future than we have in the present. Of
course, when tomorrow turns into today, we discover that we are too
busy to do everything we promised.

I remember reading a book a while back titled Slack
(by Tom Demarco) that makes a – good – case for scheduling unscheduled
time. Sound weird? Well, I just worked with a biotech company in South
San Francisco last week. One of the senior managers I consulted
confided in me that she regularly puts “meetings” on her calendar.
“This way,” she explained, “I'm sure to get the precious processing and
organizing time I need. We have a group calendar, and if people see an
open slot, they will invite me to a meeting.”
The article connects a few more dots. How we think about the future,
say a month from now, differs from how we think about more immediate
time frames (this afternoon…). A short explanation:

Participants believed that both time and money would be
more available in “a month” than “today,” and believed it more strongly
for time than for money. A deeper investigation of a psychological
phenomenon called “delay discounting,” in which people tend to lessen
the importance of future rewards, showed that people also discounted
future time more than both gains and losses in future money.

In a seminar I attended with David Allen (www.davidco.com) some 7 years
ago – I remember a profound learning I experienced. He said, “Imagine
how wonderful, amazing, and successful your life will be 10 years from
now.” In just under 20 seconds I saw myself traveling, writing a book,
celebrating events, learning new things…then, he interrupted my
thinking by saying, “Now, imagine how wonderful, amazing, and
successful your life will be at lunch today.” It was an a-mazing
experience. As I went to lunch, I sat with people I may not have talked
to. I learned – that day – not to put things off until later. Take a
look at what's available, consider what I want to make a reality, then
identify a single next step (whether I can do it now or not). As I
wrote last week, defining an action is not the big deal; my creating a
tendancy toward what I want is… 
[Jason Womack]

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