Free Press Journal

Life lessons from Rubik’s cube

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Romuald Andrade gives us tips and tricks on ways to manage the never-ending conflict between these two important aspects

Have you ever heard the expression ‘I have too much on my plate!’? This statement is often used by people to convey that they have too much work to do. Imagine if you would try to eat all three meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner all at one go. Sounds ridiculous, right? The fact is that too many people get stressed out today because they take on too much work – much more than they can realistically handle in a day but they actually expect to get it all done!

There will always be more work!


Let us change the analogy of the plate of food and think instead of a highway with cars moving on it as the work you have to do daily. Some of the work moves in the fast lane and some of it moves in the slow lane.

While there seems to be plenty of space on the highway – the reality is that traffic can only move as fast as the slowest vehicles on the road. If there are too many people cutting lanes or too much of traffic – it leads to congestion or a traffic jam.

Urban planners know that the optimum capacity of a road is 65% and not 100%. As the highway approaches 100% capacity, it stops being a highway and becomes a parking lot.

Like traffic, work does not fit. Work flows.

So it sounds simple, right? Set Boundaries! Reduce the amount of work you want to complete in a day and you will get it all done! But, there is more to life than just work, right?

Many people drift through life until one day something changes. It could be a personal tragedy that makes you aware that life is too short, or maybe your body feels tired and weak giving you signals that your current pace is unsustainable. It could be the bank refusing your loan or maybe your business is not doing so well anymore.

Instead of trying to figure out what went wrong, some people try to double their efforts while others delay taking action until the ‘perfect moment’.

Maybe you’ve said something like this to yourself or your spouse:

“As soon as I settle in to this new job, I will have some breathing space.”

“As soon as I get this promotion, I will have more time to do other things.”

“As soon as the kids leave home for college, I will have some time for myself.”

But before you know it, weeks turn into months, months turn into years. People go from one “temporary situation” to the next. Before long it’s permanent.

What we desperately need is margin — time to breathe, to reflect, to act

The answer came to me in the form of a Rubik’s cube puzzle.

A few years ago – I was hell-bent on learning how to solve the Rubik’s cube puzzle and I am happy to say I figured out how to do it.

Just in case you are wondering – I did not figure it out all by myself – I just did a Google search. So what’s my point? Yes, I was getting to that – you see it is not at all difficult to get one side of the Rubik’s cube done. For example, if you want one side to be green – that is not difficult to figure out.

In fact you will not even need to look it up on Google – you can do it by yourself. But when you want all the sides to fall into place – all hell breaks loose. You have to think about how when you fix one side – another side gets messed up. So it all has to work together in harmony.

Which is also true of life. Maybe you’re doing well at work, but your health is suffering or maybe your family time is suffering or maybe you have no time for yourself. If, your health is poor, it could negatively influence your marriage, your work, and possibly even your financial life. It is difficult to isolate the influence of one area from the others. As you fix one area another area starts to suffer – sometimes multiple areas are affected. This is why I came up with the 7 Big Rocks System – which helps you to take care of all seven focus areas of your life.

The Turning Point

The basic idea is to check every week to see if you are in alignment with the 7 focus areas of your life. If you notice a trend where you are moving out of alignment you can correct it and get back on track.The best part about this? You get to decide what those focus areas should be – not your boss, not your spouse – YOU.

How to do it!

To help get you up and running quickly, here’s a simple three-step action plan as outlined in my book “Getting the RIGHT things done”:

# Step 1: List down 7 goals one for each area of your life

# Step 2: Follow the 7 Big Rocks Productivity System, even if you are unsure if it would work for you.

# Step 3: Review what worked every week.

What are the 7 Big Rocks in your life?

Now it’s time to move from “thinking” to “doing”. You may have 20 Big Rocks or even one hundred Big Rocks. You might be surprised to find that you achieve twice as much, when you prioritize and choose just 7 Big Rocks/Goals and focus on those goals.

Try this simple strategyto take your life to the next level.

(Romuald Andrade is the author of the recently launched book “Getting the RIGHT things done”)