For those items that are date sensitive ,you put them on your calendar. If it is also a time sensitive task, such as a meeting, you also block out the specific time. If it is not time time sensitive, you may still decide to block out a particular time in which to work on the task so as to ensure that it is completed. This type of work, as David Allen points out, is “predefined work.” While completing this type of work may present it’s own challenges, at least you know when you intended to do.
What do you do in any given moment when the items on your list do not have immediate deadlines or are not in some way “mission critical”? Those of us with ADD can really shift into high gear when there is a “fire drill,” but what do you do when the sense of urgency is just not there?
You may find during these moments that
- your mind may begin racing, as you try to decide what to do; around and around the track it goes.
- you shut down, as you feel unable to make a decision.
- the first thing that catches your attention is where you focus your attention and efforts.
Of course, all of the above lack the mindfulness needed to choose what seems the most logical and important task in the moment.
Asking the right questions is one way to clarify where the best place would be to exert your time and energy. Using David Allen’s Four Criteria Model can be a useful toward this end. (It would also be helpful to have your task list and calendar organized, so that the context is readily apparent to you. I’ll cover that another time.)
Context – In what context do I find myself?
I am meeting Tia for lunch, and she just called to tell me that she will be 20 minutes late getting to the restaurant. I have my cell phone and list of calls I need to make. I could call Bill or Dana (If I still have time, I may send a quick text to Amy, too)
Time Available – How much time do I have available?
I think the call to Bill should take about 10 minutes, so I think that I have enough time. I am not going to call Dana because I think that call may take ½ hour.
Energy Available – Do I have the capacity to do this right now?
It will be a just a friendly call. I am pretty tired, but that is ok.
Priority – Is this an important task to do right now?
It is an important call; I promised I would call him during the work week and it is already Thursday.
While you still have to use your own best judgment, using the above questions can help you get off the race track onto one path.
Allen, David. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. New York: Penquin Books, 2001.