Ok, so your boat may not look like this, but are you sinking?  At this point in our lives, most of us are not  professional fire fighters.  Why then do we spend so much of our time fighting fires?  Think about a boat with a hole in it.  If you’re the one in the boat, you’re spending all of your time trying to keep the water from coming in so that you can stay afloat.  When you’re so busy trying to keep the water from rising, you don’t have a whole lot of time to relax or make sure you’re still going in the right direction.

Are you reacting to everything around you just so you can stay above water?  Here are 5 ways to plug the hole in the boat of life (sorry, I couldn’t help myself):

1.  Balance is bologna! We hear a lot about work life balance, but it’s a load of crap.  There’s no such thing, and there shouldn’t be.  There are some areas of your life that should be more important and should take more time and energy than others.  Figure out the handful of your top priorities and spend 80% of your time there, without apologizing for it.

2.  Did you make the hole? Sometimes you run across someone who always seems to be sinking.  At some point you have to ask yourself, “What’s the common denominator?”  Take a step back and make sure you’re not creating your own holes.

3.  Do you let other people sink you? Do you take other people’s priorities on as your own?  Do you find it hard to say no?  If so, you may be letting other people sink your boat.  I’m not suggesting you don’t help others, but there is also a point where you have to focus on what YOU need.  You’re no good to anyone if you’re exhausted and burnt out.  Do you have trouble saying “NO”?  I want you to try something.  Out loud, say “N” then say “O”.  Now put them together “NO”.  Good, now you can say no, granted the people sitting in the office or cube next to you may think you’re a little off, but at least you know you can say “no”.

4. Go back to basics. What’s your purpose?  I have been preparing to speak at Tori Johnson’s Spark and Hustle event in Dallas later this week, and her staff sent a few questions for the speakers to be prepared to answer.  One of them is, “What is your purpose”?  On the surface, it seems easy to answer, but the more you think about it, the harder the question becomes.  Another question was about the values by which you choose to live your life.  Why would it be important to be able articulate them?  Because every single decision you make, both personally and professionally should be made with that purpose and those values as your guiding force.

5.  Are you throwing time away? Interruptions are one of the biggest time and energy wasters.  It is estimated that each interruption wastes between 10-15 minutes, including time to re-engage in the task you were doing when you were interrupted.  If you’re guilty of letting people interrupt you, chances are, the water is going to rise in your boat pretty quickly.  If you save 30 minutes a day being more productive, that is the equivalent of having an extra 22 days a year!  How can you minimize interruptions?  Is it a certain person?  If so, ask them to write down several questions before they come to talk to you.  Is it a certain time of day?  Maybe that time should be dedicated to being available for questions.  Either way, be deliberate about the interruptions you allow.

If we don’t stop long enough to prevent our boat from sinking, we’re already sunk.  What do you do to make sure you “stay above water”?  Write a comment so we can learn more techniques.  Have a fantastic week.



  1. I have found some people spend all their time focused on areas where they feel likely to fail. Makes sense, right? They are trying to plug the hole…However, sometimes you need to look at the consequences of failure, not just the likelihood of it happening. Be ok with less than 100% success where it doesn’t matter before a little neglect leads to disaster in something major.

    • Hey Nicole. Thanks for weighing in! I think you’re totally right on the mark. It’s tough to let go of the idea of 100% sometimes, but you’re right. We can’t be all things to all people (or projects for that matter). It’s like one of my favorite sayings, “Strive for progress…not perfection”.

      Hope you are doing well!

  2. Get up early and start my day the way I want to- at home doing yoga. Work from home whenever possible. Listen to music at my desk and block out office noise or people interrupting me or my own distractable mind from wandering.

  3. In the book, Go Put your Strengths to Work, the author addresses just that idea of spending too much time plugging up holes in their areas of weakness, rather than focusing on maximizing their strengths.

    And, by the way, according to my kids, I’m Queen of No! :0)

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