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Making It All Work
Winning at the Game of Work and the Business of Life
- Read in 16 minutes
- Audio & text available
- Contains 10 key ideas
These blinks build on the principles laid down in David Allen’s previous time-management smash hit, Getting Things Done (also available in blinks). It explains how you can manage your tasks and pursue your meaningful life goals.
Key idea 1 of 10
We are easily distracted and therefore lose track of our priorities.
How often has this happened to you: You’re working on an important document when all of a sudden an incoming email pops up. What do you do?
If you’re like most people, you’ll probably instantly forget about the high-priority document and answer the email.
But why is this?
It’s basically because our minds are fickle.
These days we’re bombarded with new information in fantastic quantities, from tweets to emails to text messages.
And when this new information arrives, we have no way of knowing if it is important unless we divert our attention to it: If your email inbox goes “ping” to signify a new email, you won’t know whether it’s spam or a job offer until you look at it.
This means we are perpetually distracted, and therefore struggle to focus on the important task for long enough to finish it.
What’s more, the constant influx of new information and new tasks means that the quantity of work done is increasingly emphasized as a metric for productivity: salespeople have sales targets, teachers have student graduation targets, etc.
But the quantity of tasks done is not a good metric to focus on. Though sending lots of emails and attending lots of meetings may make an employee feel busy and productive, it in fact says nothing about the quality of their work. A far better barometer for your productivity would be to see how much progress has been made on the predefined important goals.
This focus on quantity can also cause us to get so bogged down in the nitty-gritty day-to-day tasks that we lose track of our larger life goals.
For example, say your dream is to become a writer, but you’re always so distracted at your day job that you need to work evenings to make up for your low productivity. In this case, you simply owe it to yourself to get organized, at work and at home, to be able to focus better and have the time to work toward your personal ambitions.