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Let’s get uncomfortable

My journey in trying to be productive started with trying to find the perfect tool, the perfect process, the “10 steps to productivity” if you will. Some of this was pre-internet, so I read books and magazine articles on the subject. As the internet exploded, I did searches for the best blogs and productivity experts. I had my Franklin Planner, I integrated the Franklin-Covey methodology, I had software to manage my to-do list and print it out and keep it with my schedule. I built my mission statement and did my goal setting. As the electronics came up to speed, I had my Palm Pilot and my Blackberry, an Android and then an iPhone. I played with Microsoft Outlook Tasks, Google Tasks, Things, Nozbe, and others.

But my mission statement wasn’t complete. I thought through my roles (husband, dad, son, friend, co-worker, manager…) but there were two issues. One was that I had not gotten completely honest with parts of myself. The second was that I was not being consistent in that mission in all aspects of my life.

For the first issue, while my wife was helping me learn to say “No”, it took a bit longer to be able to understand that I was a people pleaser, and it was destroying me. In 2000, I spent some time with a life coach who helped me understand the people pleasing part of myself. This helped me to better voice my wants and desires to others, as well as do better at saying “No” to those things that I wanted to do but drove my productivity down. Aaron Rubel commented on my previous post about effectiveness vs efficiency, and I had to learn that.

It took until 2015 when I almost had a mental and emotional breakdown to understand that while at the time I was being very efficient in managing a staff of people and processing 500+ emails a day, my effectiveness was at a low point. I was putting in too many hours, the self-care was lost, and my perfectionism and procrastination was taking its toll at work, while I was not enjoying the rest and relaxation that I needed.

I had to get uncomfortable. I had to look at myself even deeper. I had to make some hard decisions about my career. I had to be ok with failing and disappointing people at the right times.

And I did. I chose to work less hours and be ok with things being undone. I was let go from my position during some restructuring, and I was ok with it. I took a new position that was very different a few months later with a lower pay, and I was excited about it. I joined the Hobie Fishing Kayak Team, which was a stretch in some ways, but a joy in so many others. All of these led to some amazing growth opportunities.

For the second issue on consistency across all aspects of life, we’ll get into with future blogs.

Next week I want to look at some of the books that have made an impact on me, and why. But until then, what about you? Have you been ok with being uncomfortable, or do you need to dive into that further? Here are a few thought starters and potential actions to get uncomfortable:

  • Fear of missing out (set a time limit on social media; don’t finish that book that you are not enjoying; cancel a podcast subscription that is no longer serving its purpose)
  • Lack of trusting others, which may mean unwillingness to delegate (identify something you are doing that somebody else could do)
  • Perfectionism, either spending too much time and never being good enough or overwhelmed and unable to start (launch it!; put pen to paper)
  • Procrastination, maybe due to a proliferation of hobbies or it could be caused by your perfectionism (either schedule time to do it or set a hobby aside for a time)
  • Fear of failure (ask somebody to have a conversation; try something new)
  • Saying “Yes” too often, even to good things (next person who asks you to do something, tell them you need to think about it)
  • Trying to please everybody (list out the important people in your life)
  • Lack of self-care (identify one thing you can do differently: health, exercise, eating, emotional imbalance)

Who can you talk to about these further?

Another post on productivity?

Do we really need another post on productivity and time management? How is this one going to be different than all of the others? My day doesn’t lend itself to blocking out chunks, I’m not my own boss, I add more to my to-do list than I check off. This stuff just doesn’t work! And I don’t have time to read all of the other books that have come out! And why in the world is it in a fishing blog?

If you’re still with me, here is what I’m going to do. Today I am just going to introduce myself and how I do some of what I do. Over the next few weeks, I’ll throw a topic or two out there that has worked for me, including the books and podcasts that I have found most helpful in my journey. And I’ll issue a challenge for you that some will find easy, others will find hard. But I want to be practical.

My name is Ed Roden. I’m a husband, a dad, a leader and teacher at my church, a technology leader, and I love to mentor others, fish, kayak, read, travel, and be outdoors. I don’t consider myself super organized or an exceptional productivity guru, but I tend to get stuff done. And a friend challenged me to figure out what I do that is different. So this is it. It’s a journey, not a destination, and I’m still learning.

My wife Esther and I have been married for 27 years. We (read: Esther) have homeschooled three kids, with only one college student still at home, meaning two are launched. We have worked in youth ministry, taught at my church, mentored teenagers through adults, and traveled around the nation and the world.

From a business perspective, I have owned a small technology business, I have managed infrastructure for Fortune 500 companies, and I have built process and governance for IT organizations. This has involved leading teams, being on call 24×7 in a very reactive world with hundreds of email messages to process, learning new technology, and still not only finding time for family but trying to keep it first.

I love my hobbies. Flyfishing is my favorite relaxer, and some of my productivity tips are just to allow me to have time to enjoy them. This means I have had to learn to delegate, prioritize, and let go of some things.

I am a Type-A introvert who loves people and relaxing. I like my routines and checking off the items from the to-do list. But I can also procrastinate. I probably could have launched this a month or so ago. I am a guy who hates to say no and disappoint people. I struggle with FOMO (fear of missing out). I have days that I live successfully and feel as if my goal of taking over the world (ala Pinky and the Brain) is working. Yet more often than not, I live other days where life overtakes, and I lay down at night thinking I accomplished nothing.

So I have an outline of blog posts ready to go, but my ask is for you today is to respond wherever you see this (on the site, on LinkedIn, or on Facebook) and tell me what your biggest productivity struggle is, your favorite book on the topic, or your most successful tip. I want to have a conversation.