The Sleepy Client

I have a favorite client who talked about feeling overwhelmed at work (that’s a subject I’m expert in!). I asked him what his workday is like.

He described coming in around 10 and being immediately barraged with meetings and emails and fires that were all in the “Important/Urgent” quadrant. How do you prioritize when everything is a top priority? Not a particularly insightful question, but I wondered what would happen if he got in earlier. As homework, he agreed to try get in to work by 9 – before the meetings start – track what time he actually does get in, and to tell me at our next session.

At our next session he reported that he was able to generally come in around 9:30. But that it was so hard to get out of bed. It was an unsustainable battle of willpower. The obvious next question is sleep: Does he sleep well? What time does he go to bed?

Well, the answer to that is that he goes to bed late. He can’t fall asleep if he goes to bed earlier. So what is he doing?

He’s watching TV. For two to three hours a night. Five to six hours a day on the weekends. Some 25 hours a week on the couch. Probably pretty typical of a lot of folks out there. I asked him if he wanted to watch that much TV; the emphatic answer was NO!

He’s an interesting, resourceful guy – I had every confidence that he’d find something he actually wanted to do with his time if he wasn’t watching TV. I challenged him to kill his cable.

One of the things that is so interesting about coaching is that we started in one place (feeling overwhelmed at work) and over the course of a couple of sessions got to a unexpectedly different place (killing TV). Completely different and completely interrelated topics. Of course my client knew all of these things before sitting down with me. But instead of just thinking about it (and feeling badly about it), he actually did something about it.

Yes, he discontinued his cable service.