Jeff Davidson's book, Simpler Living, was Amazon Kindle #1 in its category, first quarter, 2012. Jeff is featured in the NY Times, Forbes, Chicago Tribune, Businessweek, Fortune, Organized Executive, and Success.

You Will Always Have a Choice

Suppose you face a variety of unrelated tasks, and what day does that not happen? Or, you face a variety of related tasks on the same project. Asking yourself what is the most effective use of my time invariably helps direct you to that task, which at present, merits your attention.

At any given moment you have the opportunity to make a choice, even if a task or project has been going particularly well, you get to make the choice as to how to use your time starting at that moment.

Imprisoned by the Past?

In a study published in the Annual Review of Psychology, researchers Rachel Karniol, Ph.D. at Tel Aviv University in Israel and Michael Ross, Ph.D. at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, found that “People less able to relate the person of the past to the person they are now may be at greater psychological risk because they are thinking only in the present and their view of the future may not be developed.” If you’re unable to recognize how you’ve changed, you’re likely to allow your past to over-influence your decisions.

“Individuals often react to the present as if they were living in the past,” say the researchers. To make free and clear choices about what we want in the future, it behooves each of us to draw accurately upon our pasts, but also note what’s different about today. This means that you do not have to proceed as an extension of what came before.

Take a New Direction

Rather than living life by looking through a rear view mirror, boldly go where you’ve never gone before, and you’ll accomplish achievements that may have seemed beyond your grasp. You can proceed in a totally new direction if that is what makes sense at this moment. You can make a slight twist or turn. Or, you can continue as you have been doing.

Will it Be any Easier Later?

When faced with a situation I would prefer to put off, I ask myself, “Will it be any easier later?” If the task will be easier later, then I have rational justification for not proceeding on that particular task. For example, if I have to organize all the receipts related to a certain project that will be in progress for another week, I can readily put off this task for another week. Then, with all the receipts collected, I can organize them accordingly, knowing I can do the job until its ultimate completion.

If the task won’t be any easier later, then it largely makes sense to proceed now, particularly if it may be more difficult later. Preparing for a speech, an interview, or a test or exam several days beforehand is a wiser approach to studying rather than cramming the night before.

If you have the option of taking work home with you, will you still be as equal to the task at home in a different, potentially more distracting environment as you would be in the work-related atmosphere of your office? If you will be as capable, okay, take the work home. More often, the task will not be easier later, so look for ways to handle them right where you are.

Who Created That?

Years ago, I took a course based on the work of Robert Fritz, a musician and filmmaker turned accomplishment guru. In his book, The Path Of Least Resistance, he discussed how to employ self-imposed questions to move from where you are to where you want to be. One of the questions that he advised people ask of themselves is: “Who created that?”

Any Time, Any Place

Any time of day, for any situation you face, if you ask yourself, “Who created that?” invariably the answer comes back that you did. Allow me to explain. You are experiencing a stringent deadline and are working diligently, but feel intense pressure. Who created that situation? You did for many reasons. You applied for a job with your present employer. You assumed the post, took on the assignment, allocated available resources in some manner, and now find yourself at 10 a.m. with five hours to go before an vital project is due.

Sure, you can blame your parents for not passing on the proper genes to you. You can blame your previous employer for having a less-than-palatable work environment, allowing you to seek your present position with a new employer.

You could blame your boss for not introducing the assignment hours or days earlier, and you could come up with at least a dozen other factors as to why you are a victim as opposed to a perpetrator. When you clear away the rubble, get brutally honest with yourself, and face the music, most of the situations you face are, a majority of the time, your own doing. This is true for nearly everyone.

Armed and Delusional

We play in the sandbox and claim we didn’t step into it, we didn’t pick up the shovel, and we didn’t cause that spec of sand to fly into our eye. If you milk it for all its worth, you can labor under this delusion all your life. You can credit your current situation to your boss.

Over the course of your 20,000 to 28,000 days, most of what transpires in your life is the result of choices you make. Yes, occasionally stuff happens from out of left field. Mostly, you make the choices that impact your life.

When you accept responsibility for the situation, you put the locus of control back where it belongs, in your own head. From there, miraculous things can happen. You created the situation, and sure as heck you’re going to resolve it. No more second guessing, no more recriminations, no more lost time on the path. Take responsibility, take charge, and get it done.

Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®," is a preeminent time management authority, has written 65 mainstream books, and is an electrifying professional speaker, making 886 presentations to clients such as Lockheed Martin, Eckerd, Kaiser Permanente, IBM, American Express, Lufthansa, Swissotel, Re/Max, USAA, Worthington Steel, and the World Bank. Jeff is Executive Director of the Breathing Space Institute and the author of books such as:
  • Simpler Living (Skyhorse Publishing)
  • Dial It Down--Live it Up (Sourcebooks)
  • The 60 Second Innovator (Adams Media)
  • Breathing Space (CreateSpace)
  • Accomplishing Your Goals (Smart Guide Publications)
Jeff is the premier thought leader on work-life balance issues and has been widely quoted in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, USA Today, Businessweek, Forbes, and Fortune. Cited by Sharing Ideas Magazine as a "Consummate Speaker," Jeff believes that career professionals today in all industries have a responsibility to achieve their own sense of work-life balance, and he supports that quest through his website

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