Maybe you’ve seen this. There was picture on Facebook the other day of a TV remote that had all the buttons covered with masking tape except the power button, the channel up and down, and the volume up and down buttons, and a caption that said, “Grandma’s remote.” I’m a Grandpa, but I think it will work well for me too. I’m not kidding, I thought it was a pretty good idea. It looked funny, but it made perfect sense to me. Ninety percent of the buttons on that thing I have never used anyway and often wondered what they’re all for. Why is it so complicated? I’m a man, and men are supposed to like to fiddle with electronics. I like big TVs. I like nice sound systems. I like watching the ballgame in surround sound. I like listening to loud oldies rock from my college years. But I don’t like setting up the systems necessary to make it all work and I don’t like having to learn how to use them. It’s too much detail for me. It’s too tedious. I’m thankful for the people that know how to use it and like knowing how to use it, but it’s not my thing. And the older I get the less it’s my thing.
I wonder the same thing about smart phones. I have one and I don’t go anywhere without it. I’m not smart phone-illiterate, as there are a variety of things I know how to do. But I also figure I use 10% of its capabilities. I don’t even know what I don’t know about it, but I’m really not that interested in finding out. The parts I want to use, I use, and I want them to work efficiently and easily, but the phone itself is far more complicated than what I need. I call, I text, I email, I use apps, I google things, I get directions, and I do other stuff with it. But I don’t want to be consumed with using it and learning more and more about all it can do.
It’s interesting how things like this are similar to our lives, our families, and our work. Life gets complicated. Sometimes the complications just happen and sometimes their self-inflicted. Schedules and life’s bumps and unexpected challenges make our days complicated. How can we keep that from happening? What parts of our life can we control? What can we do to simplify? How can we get rid of all the “buttons” on our remote that we don’t need? Which buttons can we put tape over? What kinds of things get in the way and confuse us even though we rarely need them anyway?
As a school leader, I used to tell our building administrators not to overload themselves. I told them not to put in so many hours that they burn themselves out. I told them to focus on the important “buttons” and save the ones they don’t need until later when they maybe have time to learn what they are for. I suggest you do the same. And if you never have time, then they weren’t a priority and you didn’t need them anyway. We used to spend time talking about time management and developed some tips, tricks, and ideas that might be helpful in accomplishing the priorities first.
One such tip for managing your time is to figure out when you’re the freshest and can be the most productive, then get to work. Because the more tired you are, the more complicated things seem to get. It’s hard to keep things simple and efficient when we are scattered and less focused. So find the time of day that’s best for you. I can accomplish more in 30 minutes first thing in the morning than in two hours at four o’clock in the afternoon. I always tried to schedule my most important meetings in the morning so I could stay simple, focus on priorities, make better decisions, and accomplish more with better results. I learned what kinds of things to work on at what times of the day and did my best to schedule my day to fit. Life doesn’t always allow for it, but it’s worth the effort to try.
Because when you are moving, accomplishing projects, and making progress you feel better about yourself. Work becomes more enjoyable and less like trudging through the mud. The journey becomes more satisfying, easier, and more fun. And if you are a leader, don’t forget that your employees may be just like you. If you want them to be successful, do your best to help them take advantage of their most productive times as well.
Our success in life is directly tied to our happiness. Enjoy what you do. Do your best to design all aspects of your life around what you enjoy. It’s hard work and doesn’t always come out the way you plan, but the good parts are worth the trouble. And tape over those buttons you’ll never use.