I awoke this morning to an email from my chief of staff innocently asking if he might be getting some fresh content from me this week. And that, my friends, was the straw that broke this camel’s back.
My husband and I joke that when he does the laundry, he leaves me with piles of clothes to put away. This analogy seems very fitting for this moment. I feel like I have piles of stuff to do for the Center, piles of stuff to do for Dragonfly, and piles of stuff to do personally. And, with that short missive, these piles all came crashing down on me.
The good news is that I have a process to deal with this. Yes, I am a repeat offender for letting things pile up. But that is probably another blog for another day. In the interim, I will get these piles wrangled into order. I do this by sorting the tasks into one of four categories. I call them my 4D’s – Delegate, Delay, Dump or Do. Let me walk you through each briefly:
  • Delegate – this is any item that I do not have to be the one to do. In addition to who else could do the work, this could be automating something (e.g. setting up bill pay; using an app to schedule appointments). This even includes handing back items that someone may have delegated to me.
  • Delay – I call this my “someday” list. These are things I’d like to get to but they don’t have the urgency and importance to make it to the “do” list.
  • Dump – In my regular review of my “someday” items, I will inevitably discover a list of things I no longer feel compelled to keep.
  • Do – These are my top priorities, the things I must get done this week. For example, my top priority this coming week will be to take the 30-45 minutes to gather up all of my piles and sort them into their proper category.
These past several weeks have been incredibly busy for me, exponentially more so than I’ve experienced in the past couple of years. As a result, I fell into my old habit of “just get it done,” trying to plow my way through as much work as possible. That’s a fine solution in the short-term. The problem with that approach in the long run, is that you lose sight of the forest (your goals) for the trees (the task at hand). I find that taking the time to do this simple sorting exercise keeps me focused on what’s most important to me.
I’d love to learn what systems or processes you’ve found that help you stay focused! Or, if you try this method, drop me a message and let me know how it went.