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.