Don't wait for the wake-up call - Next Action Associates

Don't wait for the wake-up call

Here’s why I do GTD: a collective reflection of a number of people who have gotten the ‘wake-up call’, as told to Judy Goldberg

Dear busy person,

Let me start with a little advice… Don’t wait for the wake-up call! What I mean by that is the possible consequences or unintended outcomes of your busy run-around life – things such as stress leading to eventual illness or heart problems; being laid off by the company you love working for and then realising you haven’t made time to network; being so tired that the thought of going out after work to socialise seems exhausting; seeing someone you love pass away and wishing you had spent more time with them.

These tend to be the wake up calls which remind you that being busy does not always mean being productive or living by your values.

I used to be like you too. Running from meeting to meeting, slightly late for all of them, and without all the proper support materials to hand. Frustrated at people who would not get back to me, and forgetting who I asked to do what. Losing sleep because so much was on my mind and waking up in the middle of the night in a panic thinking I’d forgotten something. Not having time for my team because I was ‘too busy’ in meetings with other people or working on more important projects. Being distracted in meetings, with friends, at home with my family, and with my team. No one got 100% of me. Some didn’t even get 50% of me.

But boy was I getting things done (or so I thought!). My numbers were up, my team was cranking away, and though team turnover was high, we kept getting great people in to close the deals. I was making decisions and putting in the time needed to get the bonus I so deserved, and I got it. Sometimes I lost my temper and sure I missed a few things here and there, but I was still being recognised for top performance and was flying high.

But then, all of a sudden, I wasn’t.  My wake-up call was like a klaxon on my health and it was only then that I realised I was running on fumes and with blinkers on, completely lacking true perspective.

What I didn’t see is that I was virtually a ticking time bomb of stress. The pills I was popping to reduce anxiety or get some sleep didn’t help too much, and people around me were worried, or didn’t trust that I’d show up for a meeting, or questioned my decisions, or wondered when I’d go off the rails.  Also, I didn’t have time for my team!  The very people who were meant to make me look good.  That mirror was held up to my face when my health took a turn.

I hit my peak of stress. I was so stressed my bones hurt and I didn’t even know who I was anymore. Something had to give.

I am a bit stubborn, so it took me some time to find the light, but I did – and trust me, I’m a new person and still learning every day. I now have a system in place. Some of you may have heard of GTD. Well, it works.

I took a day out to attend a workshop about mastering workflow which should really be called ‘How to master life’. After this, I had some private coaching and although I’m no GTD pro, at least I can say I’m Getting Things Done now with purpose and passion, and without destroying others or myself.

I clear my head, I make comprehensive lists, I craft a specific agenda for every meeting, I show up on time (well almost always) and I am more present now than I have been ever in my life. I still need my alone time and I still forget things now and again, and I still have moments of overwhelm (I’m only human, after all) but overall, my world has changed.

Yours can too. You may not know it until you get the ‘wake-up call’. Why wait for it? Get ahead of it and live the life you truly desire.

You only get one.

Anonymous GTD champion

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