Putting More Thought Into What's Next
My friend, Alan Kaniss, wrote a fantastic article for the Tester, a publication of the Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, Maryland, entitled, "Why Put More Thought Into 'What Next?'" Al articulates so well the struggle we face in how to use our time. He hits on several gems related to managing our time effectively, including:
Money isn't the only thing from which we try to get as much value as we can. I thought of the interesting correlation between spending our time and spending our money. Studies show that people who use cash consistently spend less on items than those who use credit cards. Why? We more immediately recognize the cost of the item. What if we took this same approach with how we spend our time, stopping to fully recognize the cost of the activity or task? Like a credit card, we defer the cost and have to pay the bill later in terms of higher stress, lower productivity, and missed opportunities.
We don't often put much thought into what we do next. We follow the path of least resistance, choosing the most convenient task instead of looking at the activities that might be more difficult, but yield a greater return on investment.
The hardest things to work on are those that are important but not urgent because you have to act on them. Brilliant! They require us to be proactive and recognize the need to work on them now, and that's hard when you're just handling one urgent item after another that's screaming at you.
Conscious choices are the key, and that includes saying "No" to the unimportant. This brings us back to how much thought we put into the question, "What Next?" Spending more time on this question means the difference between a busy day and a truly productive one in which our highest priorities are addressed.
Thanks for the wise words, Al. We look forward to more of them. To read the full article, click here.