shooting an arrow

Recognizing EFD

Ouch! What on earth was that? Well, I don’t see anything. Did you see that?

See what?

What do you mean, see what? I was just hit!

Hit? Who hit you? I sure didn’t hit you.

If I knew, I wouldn’t be asking you, now, would I? I have no idea – all I know is that I was hit!

Um, you have a pretty active imagination. Why don’t you get back to work?

You may be right, but it sure felt like I was hit.

OUCH! There it goes again! I can’t get anything done because I keep getting hit!

Um, maybe you need a day off…

I’m not imagining this, you know!

Invisible Person Wearing a Hat

Invisible Enemies

Invisible enemies are hard to fight. I’m not talking about Havana Syndrome here. I’m talking about the invisible enemies of personal productivity. But how on earth do you fight invisible enemies? Apple Vision?

Um, no.

The first step is in identifying that there is an enemy, and looking for tracks. What evidence is the enemy leaving? What do they consistently do that you can become aware of and begin to defend against? How can you begin to recognize their attacks for what they are?

In my last post, I mentioned a list of things. Now, of course, they are a neatly ordered list:

  • Poor Energy
  • Tired/Sleepy
  • No Willpower
  • Starting Point Indecision
  • Task Paralysis
  • Time Blindness
  • Multitasking
  • Interruptions
  • Things Outside of My Control

With each of these things, I had to first recognize that these were not, in and of themselves, bad things. Rather, they were really indicators that I could give attention to in order to understand what may be really needed. Previously, if I were low on energy, I would simply experience that, think something was wrong with me and try to push through it toward my goal, objective or deadline, sloughing my way through the muck of my apparent slothfulness.



Before this was a list, these were like arrows being shot in the dark that would hit me unawares coming from any number of directions, and I would never know from where or when. They were seemingly random. But once I began to stop and identify them and connect the dots, randomness began to fade away, replaced first by awareness, and then by clarity.

I identified these culprits of diminished productivity by drawing a line down the middle of a page to make two columns. The left column I titled “What are my thoughts?” and the second column, “Solutions”. (See below).

Arrows in and of themselves are not bad. It all depends upon whose arms hold the bow and what their intent is.

This exercise helped me clearly delineate what my thoughts were in order to recognize them each time they surfaced so I could take action rather than just being acted upon.

Being low on energy was not the enemy. It was simply the arrow. The enemy was really, okay, wait for it here, a poor habit of not getting enough of this thing called SLEEP. :O I had to use my low level of energy, or my tiredness, to ask myself that seemingly elusive question, “Am I getting enough rest?” And what’s more, I had to give myself permission to rest. I discovered that I had to change my way of thinking about rest so I could see it as my friend and not the enemy of my productivity. Now, I had read all of this before, and what’s more, I’m married, so you KNOW I’ve heard all of this from my wife, but I am one of those persistent, stubborn males who just feels like the only lessons that are worth learning are the ones I learn the hard way, I guess!

So, I began incorporating more rest into my daily schedule, both by getting 6-7 hours of rest every night (instead of 4-5 hours) and giving myself permission to take 20-minute Power Naps when needed during the day. But the increase of nightly rest had to happen over time. What began helping me right away in the short-term was to stop, recognize how I was feeling, what I was thinking, and ask myself some questions:

  • How am I feeling right now? Why? Why is that? And why is that?
  • Is this low energy from a lack of rest or a lack of clarity?

As an immediate solution, I would choose from different actions:

  • take a Power Nap when I was feeling drained
  • get up and take a walk
  • get outside for a bit
  • Use some essential oils to help reenergize me
  • brew up a cup of matcha tea (as a former coffee drinker, I’ve found this a much better and healthier solution!)
  • use the power of words to bring my focus back in line
    • speak my focus out loud
    • speak my goal or my mission out loud
    • speak a reminder of why what I am working on is important
thoughts solutions

The key was recognizing that I am the one responsible for my own actions, and if I just go along with whatever I am feeling at the time, I am allowing my feelings to control my actions, and that is not a good approach.

Out of that Thoughts/Solutions exercise along with some research  on EFD came the list above.

Out of the list above came actions I could take when recognizing how I was feeling and what I was thinking. These thoughts and feelings were the undergirding of EFD and its ravages of my productivity. These actions and solutions became the sword by which I could then begin to fight the enemies seeking to make my days of no effect.


Taking Action

Here are some power questions I now ask myself depending on what I am thinking or feeling at the time:

  • What am I feeling right now?
  • Why am I having this issue?
  • Is this something under my control?
  • What is the healthiest choice I have?
  • What about this task or project am I avoiding? What is the real barrier here?
  • Why is this task important? What’s the reward for accomplishing it?
  • What’s the worst that could happen if…?
  • What action can I take right now to move this forward?
  • Is it okay if I just hit a single instead of a home run today?
  • What can I do right now to make a difference?

Words have power. Spoken words have significant power in our lives. I ask questions like these out loud and answer them out loud. While I am not into things like “The Secret” and other similar approaches, I do understand that with words, mere words, all of the known universes were spoken into existence, and I do understand that humans were fashioned and originally made in the image of this Eternal God. So too our words have power. With those words I can save a life or destroy it.

Well, this is my life I’m talking about, so I may as well do all I can to save it, as much as that is up to me.

In the next step in the Journey with Time, I’ll begin taking a look at how tools have hindered and helped and what I’m doing now. I hope you’re finding this useful and will give me the honor of returning again.

14 thoughts on “Recognizing EFD In My Ways of Thinking and Acting”

  1. That’s some good insight. Great exercise for dealing with invisible enemies, thanks for sharing your process.

    1. Hey Nathan, thanks for taking a look, but more importantly, thanks for taking this Journey with Time with me!

  2. Karen Elissabeth

    Hi Michael That was quite an insightful read!
    Invisible enemies oh yes they exist and we need to find ways to deal with them. You have found ways that work for you in identifying them and either managing or eliminating them.
    Great stuff!
    Thanks for sharing and providing great value 😊
    I look forward to reading more of your posts
    Have a great invisible enemy free week!

    1. Hi Karen – thanks for stopping by, and thanks for your gracious comments. I don’t know if I’ll be free of those invisible enemies quite yet, but at least they won’t take me as much by surprise!

    1. Yes, Havana Syndrome is fairly new on the landscape, and not talked about much, so not surprising that you had not heard of it.
      Limiting beliefs, fears, emotional baggage and egocentric perspectives are all invisible enemies, or at the very least, some of the various arrows being shot. This all undergirds “we are our own worst enemy”, so lines of delineation are hard to draw in our own life, not to mention trying to draw them in the life of another. That’s why working through the questions to ask myself is so important. But even that involves a bit of a training ground to properly discern what the source of what I am thinking or feeling may be. But with practice and persistence, I begin to get things right more often than not, with the result that circumstances that used to drown my entire day (sometimes more than one), are now relegated to a few minutes or an hour or so max of reflection, with the resulting question often being, “So, what can I do now?” or “Okay, so I can’t do anything to change that – what can I do instead?”. The right action is a one-two punch to fear.

  3. Eleanor Hope

    Hi Michael,
    How amazing you are improving and inspiring self-care. Thank you for sharing your insights and your journey there.

    Too many times we are just busy, busy outside of ourselves.

    You are taking the time to listen to what is best for you.
    Eleanor Hope recently posted…Facing Your Fears in Stormy WeatherMy Profile

    1. Hi Eleanor,
      Thank you for your kind words – I hope the insights I’ve gained along the journey can continue to be an inspiration to you.

  4. Kate Loving Shenk

    I’d summarize this by saying-“Too many thoughts, not enough solutions.” Getting sleep, resting, meditating moving and eating good meals, drinking enough water etc keep a fresh outlook on the balancing acts of life.

    1. That’s great, Atif – glad they are of help to you – they continue to be of help to me!

  5. Nakina Lawson

    Hi, Michael! I like the idea of encouraging myself to stay on track by speaking aloud of my goals and what I’m doing. I can see how that would help me focus on a very deep level.

    I once went through a phase where I couldn’t understand what I was reading. I had to read aloud and hear it to understand.

    Doing so, I learned on such a deeper level. I began to hear the difference in poets’ voices. I reflected much more on what I was reading. My imagination worked vividly. It was a very unexpected way to get more out of my study.

    So, I expect talking to myself throughout my day would impact me on a very deep level as well. It will probably, in the same way as above, help me in ways I don’t expect now.

    Thanks for the tip!

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