Capacity Versus Choice

Key Point: “I feel overwhelmed, I just don’t have time to do all that is expected of me…” That phrase or facsimile, is a common mantra in today’s corporate life (or just plain life in general). This capacity issue is often accompanied by a “keeping my fingers crossed” hope or expectation that somehow this situation is going to change for the better. However, most of us know that is NOT true. Certain times are slightly less hectic than others, for sure. However, we are one inevitable crises or new priority away from that feeling of being crushed by expectations. We feel this because it is very real. There is way more to do than time available in both our professional and personal lives. Our common ingredient is the 24 hours available to each of us daily. The new reality is that technology has redefined available options to manage our time, and that has both freed us up and/or enslaved us depending on choices we make.

Most of us will never experience the perfect level of contributions made versus time allotted. Yes, we might become reclusive and even a hermit so that time and capacity become severely narrowed. But that is not the path and likelihood for most of us. Everywhere we look there is more to do: One more email to respond to, podcast to listen to, book to read, initiative to start or complete, child to help, friend to visit, yard to maintain, car to clean, parent to be cared for, diet to go on, etc. etc. Aaaaaaghh… Enough! It can make many of us want to run away and literally escape, or more and more “pause,” through the vehicle of mood modifying substances like drugs and booze.

The wonderful side of this situation is some level of increased autonomy. And of course, that level of freedom to choose is different for each of us. It’s a very personal matter because each of our circumstances is unique. The one thing we know for sure is that we have to look after ourselves first. We become incapacitated when we get totally burnt out, and that diminishes our ability to help anyone. The hard thing about being in control is to take control. We have to make choices, and as a result NOT everyone is going to be happy with or even like us all the time. We have to thoughtfully declare and consciously choose to do “this” and NOT do “that.” The front-end filter has to be our personal well-being, not because we’re selfish narcissists, but because if we go down, everyone loses more. 

So, I do not believe we have a capacity crises in the workplace. Let’s agree for the rest of our lives there will be an overwhelming amount of “should of’s” and “could of’s” at work and in our personal lives. What we DO have, I believe, is a crisis of personal confidence regarding being able to make hard choices. This includes embracing a mindset of being self-accountable enough to choose AND NOT beat ourselves up because of judgment based imperfection. Yup, sometimes a project gets delayed because another one takes precedent. Yes, sometimes the house doesn’t get vacuumed on Saturday. And yeah, sometimes instead of that email, it’s a call to children or grandchildren. Some thing and unfortunately someone is going to get left a little behind. That one person, however, cannot be you or me. Have the courage to accept that and the consequences. You’re worth it. 

Character Moves:

  1. Learn how to make your agenda the one that drives your day (of course, this involves where you choose to intersect with others).
  2. Have a way to choose what is most important and for what reason. This is why your personal purpose and stated values are so necessary. Apply other choice filters that are uniquely yours. 
  3. Embrace and recognize that not everyone is going to be happy with you and accept the consequences. 
  4. Stop saying you do not have “enough time.” Of course you do. You consciously or unconsciously made other choices. You just can’t do it all. Most times, our decisions aren’t fatal. We can recover. This is how we learn to make better ones over time. And for some of us, we have to repeat a few times too. That’s how we progress. 

Choosing in The Triangle,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: It’s nice to hear Millennials be honest and popularize the phrase “everyone’s busy until they don’t want to be.” Usually it applies to dating life because “too busy” is such a common excuse, and no one wants to be rude enough to say “look, I just don’t feel like making time for YOU.” But this applies to all aspects of life. It’s ok that we have to prioritize and sometimes decide not to do or follow up with certain things or people. Notice how we still have time to make that gym session, or watch “The Bachelor” with friends. Let’s just hope we’re choosing the most productive activities and best company to fill our calendars up with. Like it says above, we’re worth it.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

One Comment
  1. Kerilee says:

    This capacity issue comes up often. I appreciate the perspective on having autonomy to choose how much effort we put wherever we decide and the choices we are able to make. This is a reframing of giving away our power to someone else, each of us has the opportunity to decide how our story goes. Especially how we spend our precious resource – ourselves. Thanks for this one.

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