April 18, 2011
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I read an inspirational article this weekend in Fast Company and wanted to share a wonderful metaphor that it highlighted as we all struggle with the day-to-day of keeping up with the infinite number of tasks piling on. Before that some context…In the article, David Allen, a self-proclaimed influential thinker on personal productivity, calls the infinite number of things we all have to get done the “silent trauma” of knowledge workers everywhere. I tend to agree as i, as he states in his article, operate in world where there really are “no edges to [my] job” and with Facebook, Google, Twitter and more there is “no limit to the potential information that can help [me] do [my] job better.”
Allen puts it succinctly “What’s more, in a competitive environment that’s continually being reshaped by the Web, we’re tempted to rebalance our work on a monthly, weekly, even hourly basis. Unchecked, warns Allen, this frantic approach is a recipe for dissatisfaction and despair — all-too-common emotions these days for far too many of us”
The hi-light of the article to me is the forming question that can help settle many of our personal strifes driving these emotions of dissatisfaction and dispair:
That leads to a simple question that most of us find difficult to answer: How should we go about setting priorities?
When people ask me how to set priorities, I ask them a question: At what level do you want to have this conversation? Each of us operates on many different levels at all times. We each have a runway that holds all of the little things that consume our time. At 10,000 feet are the projects. At 20,000 feet, people are deciding on their roles and goals. At 30,000 feet, people are thinking ahead, asking themselves where they want to be in their careers 12 to 18 months down the road. At 40,000 feet, they’re thinking 3 to 5 years out and looking at their organizational aspirations. Then, at the top — at 50,000 feet — they’re asking, “What’s my job on this planet?”
The punchline? Think hard about how to organize at different levels. This simple tactic of creating structure to how you prioritize and organize can be a life saver. You can read the full article here.