''Making It All Work': the process
This is the third entry in a twenty part series discussing the wonderful time and priority management book Making It All Work by David Allen. New entries in this series will appear on Tuesday mornings and Friday mornings through December 10.
Makng It All Work opens with what I would call three “introductory” chapters that precede what I would call the main section of the book. This third “introductory” chapter is quite short and mostly just sets up a few key concepts for the rest of the book. I identified five of these concepts that really stuck out at me.Skip to next paragraph
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Losing Control and Direction
On page 49:
From time to time you will experience yourself either feeling out of control or lacking direction – or both. If you didn’t you’d probably be stale.
This could be true on a larger life scale, such as how you are experiencing your career, or, at a more mundane level, such as being disorganized in preparing a dinner for friends. This can (and will) happen in and with your project in the garage, your family, your team, your job, your company, your school committee, your life.
As I’ve mentioned before, there are times where I feel like my life is humming along wonderfully and everything seems to be in sync. I know what I’m doing. I know why I’m doing it. I’m really productive and full of energy.
Eventually, though, something happens that knocks this off of the rails. An emotional event. A crisis that eats a lot of time and energy. A slow change in my goals and directions.
I start to feel out of control. Sometimes, I start to wonder what exactly I’m working for.
The Two Keys
On page 51:
In the simplest terms, there are only two things you or your team or company needs to do to achieve positive and productive engagement with the commitments you face and to achieve all of the desired results [...]: get organized and get focused.
Again, that seems simple. Yet virtually every common problem a person or team boils down to one of those two problems: a lack of organization or a lack of focus.
Organization problems come from not having the right resources available for the task. People problems. Information management problems. Communication problems. They’re all signs of some form of disorganization.
On the other hand, focus problems include things like simply having too much to do or being bored without enough to do or not being engaged with what’s going on.
How do we solve them? The solution really comes from putting aside time to evaluate what you’re doing and why you’re doing it on a regular basis. So often, people and groups view that evaluation as “wasted time,” but I’ve found it to be the most valuable time that I spend.
The Price of Creativity and Productivity
On page 55:
Loss of control and perspective is the natural price you will pay for being creative and productive. The trick is not how to prevent this happening, but how to shorten the time you stay in an unsettled state.
Why are we worried about these things? Simply put, time spent out of control and without perspective is time lost.
I know that there are sometimes days when I just sit here spinning my wheels, trying to decide what to do next or not even being sure what I should be doing. I don’t have ideas. I don’t have direction. I just idle a bit.