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“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bet out of shape.”

I love this saying because it teaches so much about  new way of thinking about managing your time, commitments – life, for that matter.

In today’s fast changing world the concept and practice of creating one “to do list”, and  then prioritising items on the list in some way  (ABCD E for example) , and then executing these tasks one by one starting at the most important and sticking with that one until it is done, just does not work so well.

You create your list at 08:00 but 10 minutes later the phone rings and everything changes – what was top priority at 8 is now number 10 on the list and something that wasn’t even on the list now requires your immediate attention.

So are you going to stick to “A1”?

Or are you going to be flexible  and adjust to the new context?

When the context changes, everything changes.  You are reading this message now but if a fire breaks out in your room I doubt that you will first finish reading it before rushing out!

I like David Allen’s approach in his “Getting Things Done” book – have a complete inventory of work to be done, with actions organised so that similar actions are grouped together, and then decide on what is the most important thing to do by considering the following four things:

  1. Where am I?  You can’t mow the lawn if you are at the office, even it feels like the most important thing to do.
  2. How much time do I have?  You will do different things with 10 or 90 minutes available.
  3. What is my energy level like?  It’s probably best not to tackle your most challenging project when your batteries are flat.
  4. What will give me the biggest pay-off if I do it now?  For this you will need to understand your priorities, but a higher level than ABCDE – what are governing personal and business values  and priorities that guide my decision making.

What do you think?  Let me know.

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After re-reading David Allen’s article “You can do anything but not everything”, and linking to my previous post,  I found it valuable to revisit the idea of “creative procrastination”.

Brian Tracy’s definition: “Creative procrastination is the act of thoughtfully and deliberately deciding upon the exact things you are not going to do right now, if ever”.

You probably have some kind of “to do” list, and it may even be prioritised using some kind of prioritising system (ABCDE or 123).

Here is a small challenge: rather than just working IN your list, take some time to work ON your list. Weed out the things that are not serving your current purpose and priorities.

Delete them or put them on a list you may call “Later if ever”. If you use MS Outlook to manage your reminders, that’s a category you can use.

Review your calendar and list things that are not aligned with your current priorities.

When you do this you may just relieve some stress and worry and eliminate feelings of failure.

You may want to create a different kind of “Not to do” list, which is a list of things you are currently doing habitually that could improve the quality of your life if you were not to do them.

A few examples:

• Stop responding to emails as they arrive.
• Realise that multitasking is a myth – stop doing it.
• Getting it perfectly right is usually not worth the (wasted) effort. When it’s good enough it’s good enough. Know when to stop.
• You cannot please everyone all the time – so stop doing it. Colin Powell: ” Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity.”
• Stop answering phone calls from numbers you do not recognise.
• Do not allow interruptions – every time you allow it, you condone it.
• Turn off your voicemail facility – if it is important enough they will call you again. Or ask them to send an sums or email.
• We talk more to ourselves than to others – and mostly it’s negative stuff. Stop putting yourself down.

What can you add to the list?

If you have a moment, feel free to share some of the things on your “not to do” list with me!

 

 

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