Hello! Welcome Back!
I'm not 100% sure where this post will go (like most of my posts) so just bear with me.
My son - Nathan - is in 7th Grade. He goes to a Montessori School. If you're not familiar with Montessori style, it's very "learner" focused. Instead of master-teacher style, it's more student led and the teacher is there mostly to help/assist as the student needs it. Instead of daily homework, there are typically week-long (or longer) work plans that the student is responsible for. They need to have the ability to pace themselves and get the work done. This is a challenge for Nathan. That particular "executive function" - breaking down a complex task into multiple bite size chunks - isn't a strong area of his. It's been really tough and stressful on him (and us) as the Instant Gratification Monkey tends to distract him and he has to rush through on the weekends to finish his work.
At the risk of sounding like a totally arrogant jerk - I'm a good/strong administrator. I love project management. I love setting up tasks, and cadences of communication, and "getting the job done" etc. I do a lot of job coaching and skills development in these areas of organizational leadership, growth, and health. It's fun for me. I truly believe God has specifically given me abilities in this area and I want to use those the best of my abilities. So, I'm helping Nathan. I'm modeling for him how to break down his work plan and do a little bit each day (as his block schedules allow) or evenings so he can be as much of a kid as possible and work as little as possible on the weekend. He's in 7th grade. He needs to learn these "adult type skills" but he's still a kid and needs to have fun too. I've been working with him multiple days a week at these areas and I think he's getting it. He's even told me "thanks - this is really helpful" multiple times. That of course makes me feel good.
What really broke through to him - I think of course I could be wrong - was describing to him that what we're doing with his schedule is pretty much EXACTLY what I do at work. I have things that take hours. I have things that take days. I have things that take weeks. I have things that take months or longer. I take time each week to put my tasks in "buckets" and block times on my calendar so I can do those things. It's the same thing with his Montessori work plans - taking these tasks, breaking them into "bite size chunks" and then scheduling them. Make the plan. Work the plan.
So, that takes us to the topic of the day: Urgent, Important and Significant.
I've recently read some really good definitions of these words. I think I read something on twitter. Or maybe Facebook. I really don't remember the link/author (sorry - I'd totally give credit if I could) but I took some old school handwritten notes in my notebook.
- Urgent - How soon does it matter?
- Important - How much does it matter?
- Significant - How long will it matter?
Yeah. Read that again. Let it sink in. Do you do urgent things? important things? significant things? all of the above? I hope so.
Let me personalize this a bit.
As the Chief R&D Officer, I have myriad things I'm responsible for. People. Tasks. "New Stuff" to - you know - research and develop. Leadership Team contribution. Revenue generation. Choices. Kaizen.
I have to make good/wise choices as to how I spend my day.
Just like my son Nathan, I have to make the plan and work the plan.
I have to have margin. That margin is where the urgent happens. Things pop up that require immediate attention. I have to have time to handle those things. I have to be flexible enough with my day (as reasonable) to be interrupted to fight fires.
But, I specifically have to block out times (and shut the door as necessary) for important things. Maybe these are strategic things. Maybe these are specific tasks or projects that have due days. Maybe these are just the "next level things" that are important that day, week, month, etc.
But, the real killer is the significant things. Our leadership team just spent 2 full days out of the office reviewing 2016 and planning 2017 and beyond. That is a significant thing. It matters far longer than a daily "crisis of the day" or "that due date next week" right? These are legacy things. These are critical organizational things that we have to steward related to real people, with real jobs, and real families and real responsibilities. Other significant things may be related to a particular long term investment or strategy of the company for the next 1, 3, 5, 10 years or more. Those things require a different priority and level of focus. Each quarter we spend one day out of the office to review the last quarter, set next quarter plans, and make sure we're all on track for the annual (and beyond) goals. We make a plan. We work the plan.
So, how do you choose? Whether it's a 10 year financial plan, or a 1 year goal, or a weekly "work plan" in Social Studies - a person has to be able to filter through the "noise" of the day and find a true "signal" to guide them. The signal to noise ratio needs to be high. So, the filters need to be able to block out SACRED time for the significant, "mostly immovable" chunks of time for the important, and then have gaps of time (or flexible time) for the urgent. Because whether you are a student, or a parent, or a C-level executive - you'll run against all of these things, and you have to choose wisely.
That's what I got. I've been mulling this over for a while and wanted to post it.
What about you? How do you choose wisely and prioritize among the categories of your life? Did I miss one or more that I need to consider?