It’s Not Too Late To Push Your Deadline

My former boss is certainly one of the more interesting persons I know. A professor of political theory, an investigator in the South Pacific, a theologican with an emphasis on logic, a successful visual artist – you name it.

There are many things that contributed to his success, but I personally like to think that one of them is his “two appointments” rule: Instead of overscheduling (like the rest of the world), he’ll only make two appointments a day. That’s it.

While he often isn’t as lucky as to indeed merely have two appointments a day, this rule generally leaves him with enough free time to interact consciously with the people he meets unexpectedly. But even taking these into account, he still has plenty of time to advance his important projects – this could be anything from writing a book to preparing a course to painting a picture.

Strategic Task Management

Should we just limit our tasks to two day day as well? I was pondering this yesterday, when I talked to Srinivas Rao from BlogcastFM for a new interview series I’m preparing for The Friendly Anarchist. (More on that soon!)

At one point during our conversation, Srini and I talked about how people clutter their to do lists. While some of us might indeed be able to tackle the myriad of tasks we make up, many of us will probably just get overwhelmed.

But there’s another notion to it: While we’re all great at writing lists, we tend to forget to think about which tasks should be done: Which tasks matter. Which tasks are the most important. (And not the most urgent.) Which tasks will have the biggest positive impact on our work and our lives.

Maybe it’s time to be less busy doing nonsense. And get smarter about deciding what we want to do. I’d call that strategic task management.

It’s Not Too Late to Push Back Your Deadline

The other thing we often forget is to look back at the tasks that we already accomplished over a day: The planned ones and the unplanned ones, the appointments and meetings, the work stuff and the private matter. I myself, for example, had planned to publish a longer article today – but now I see it won’t happen. So I looked back and was actually quite happy: I did so many important things today that I decided to give that particular article a bit more of my time – to make it worth your time in the end.

But this time won’t be taken from this very day: Instead of pulling a night shift, I’ll just enjoy some idleness. Instead of checking things off some list, I’ll give my soul some breathing space.

A walk in the woods should be the best thing to do.

The light is good, and the camera is waiting.

Sometimes, pushing a deadline can be the best decision.

Comments 13

  1. Margaret May 30, 2012

    I like this perspective very much, similar to how I am drawn to the idea that what you ‘should’ be doing is what is easiest for you, what You In Particular are best at (from Illuminated Mind). I feel that these sentiments sometimes paint us (the dreamers and doers) as lazy, when, as you point out, we’re being strategic.
    Can this work if everyone does it? Are we being fair citizens of the world when we pursue this line? Interested to see what others think.

    • Fabian June 5, 2012

      Thanks Margaret! I for one can certainly learn to be a bit more strategic myself. Srini’s input was of much help in this respect! (Will post his interview with more on the topic at the end of this month!)

  2. Sven May 31, 2012

    I liked the thoughts of Harald Welzer, Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Memory Research, saying many people today are working 16 hours a day and the are working everywhere, in the office, on the plane, at cafés. A few years ago these very same people would have been home at 6pm. They leverage their company’s profits, optimize strategies and decrease costs, making everything more efficient . These crazy folks are now working double time in the opposite direction, while time for people who pause for a moment and think, becomes less, relativly seen (especially if you consider that you don’t think more if you think longer).

    • Fabian June 5, 2012

      Sounds interesting, man. Would you mind sharing where Welzer talked about this? Would love to read more!

  3. kelly June 2, 2012

    So interesting! I have created a new blog and I have been stressing out about the initial content. In fact the 3 amazing posts I have already written are now false because I have changed my position on all three topics. I decided to stop stressing and just push the publish button. That decision turned my “Saturday to-do list” – a list that was going to take hours to complete – well it just took a few minutes.

    Sure there are things we must get done in a day – but, as you said, we really need to be conscious of whether we need to do those things or we are just filling our time because we are uncomfortable with any down time. How many our there – those that are running around like crazy doing everything – how many are just running from themselves?

    • Fabian June 5, 2012

      Haha Kelly, I know that feeling how things we learn and write today may looks very different when looking back later on. Also, learning to enjoy some downtime is an important point for many peoples’ to do lists for sure! ;)

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