There are Five steps plus demystifying the illusion of Atlas from Greek Methodologies that will help us reach “first things first” to get everything accomplished.
In our previous chat; “First Things First 1/2”, We had categorized the ideas -Ideas are tasks that are not yet executed- into 3 categories. What you (1)ought to do, what you (2)need and what you (3)want to do. Then, we explained together that none of these categories entitle the task to be on the top of the “First Things First”. To organize what is in mind “First Things First” to have a chance to turn those struggling ideas to the execution stage, there are 5 steps to take and one myth to clear. We had practiced the first two of the five steps through last week. We had written down our ideas and asked ourselves: why this idea is in my mind?
Third and fourth steps, The two sides of the “Time” Filter
The next question you need to write an answer for is “When this item need to be done?” But it can’t be answered without the fourth one: “Is there any needed preparation?”.
Typical example can be: Third Step answer: When It is Needed? :This Maintenance item is needed for the Next Major Repair i.e. after 8 month. However the Fourth Step answer could be: It needs some spares that were delivered last time in 10 month. Together those two answers ranked the item that will due after 8 month a Top Priority!!
Another life typical example: You need to book a ticket for the coming vacations season. There are still 6 month, but tickets won’t be available and won’t have a fair price as you approach the holidays season. So you need to do it sooner then you can drop it off your list. Just remember to travel 😂 after six month time.
The fifth step, the “What if?” verification filter
It is good to introduce a pivot question: “What if I didn’t do it?”. That question starts to put some prioritization for the “to do” race of ideas in your mind. Examples: “What if” I skipped this item from the next maintenance? What if I didn’t check my maintenance program for nearby due maintenance activities? Not to mention booking tickets for your next trip or getting your wife a birthday cake 😉!!
The “What if” filter might come with some conflicting results when there is a high ranked requester for this item. A good example would be the request to change all the fence lighting or to switch to solar energy power supply even it is not feasible for your industry. But the owner or the board members had recommended those ideas and they want to see it effective as soon as possible. It is their “First Things First” for now.
Don’t get confused. Remember the first question “Why this task is needed?”. The answer would be “Because a highly authoritative person had requested it”. This might rank this item with a high priority on your list. But chew it for more time and look for options. The high priority task can be detoured from the fast execution to the study and planning. The study and planning can result in your believe in the idea or alternative ideas offerings. And, those seemingly needless big projects can end up in smaller feasible projects.
The last step, Who will do those tasks? You are not Atlas!!
In Homer’s Odyssey, Book I, Atlas seems to have been a marine creature who supported the pillars that held heaven and earth apart. But you are not sentenced with this duty. The myth of thinking that things will fell apart if you didn’t hold everything in your hands or do it yourself is a fallacy that prevents you from getting all your ideas accomplished.
First assumption here is that your role even if you are working alone is to manage the tasks you have in mind before execution. Of course if there is a problem now and you are working alone, you have to response immediately. However you should respond wisely in a smart way. This brings the need to include planning for emergency in your spare time.
So, if we say that the prime target is to manage our response to the tasks that are rumbling in our mind, it is better to find a formal definition of management as below:
What is management?https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/what-is-management
Management is the coordination and administration of tasks to achieve a goal.
Delegate or subcontract but do your homework first
You should be managing before executing even on the personal scale. So you should care about distributing the tasks and properly loading your team. It is even wiser if you delegate some of the management activities to your team members.
You are not working alone. Even if, subcontract but do your homework first. Your homework is to understand what exactly you want in this task and what is your expected output. Then you can subcontract or delegate. Follow the below simplex life example to clarify it.
One simple example of subcontracting even many don’t look to it , is the delivery service. May be you think of delivery from aboard, that’s typical and non avoidable. In the example I mean is the delivery of food for your next meal. Let’s not argue about healthy vs junk food as a lot of homemade-like varieties are available. Also, if you have the capacity and technicality to cook, that would be cheaper and will give you more control over the ingredients and quantities.
However, if you don’t have the time or experience to cook and you are hungry now, then to subcontract someone to bring you a cooked meal is a great option. If you apply the same example to the tasks you have in mind, you will find that subcontracting a helping hand that can save you a lot of pressure. Just do your homework first.
To Make it short and clear, follow the below 5+1:
- Write down all what is in your mind. All mean: What you want, what you need to and what you think you are obliged to.
Beside each one add the following four answers:
- Why I have the idea that I want this task to be done?
- When It is needed?
- What are the preparations required? How much time it may take?
- What if I didn’t do it?
+1 = I am not Atlas and I am neither punished nor responsible to hold the world’s bolts and nuts in its location. I can delegate, subcontract, analyze and propose alternatives. On top of all I am here to manage my response to what is explicitly asked or what stumbles in my mind. That’s how we can put “First Things First”.
There are a lot of ideas and tasks struggling in our mind and many times we lose the focus. We can’t select properly which task to start with and Why?. The absence of logical step by step process to arrange our duties and wanting in a balanced Queue leave us under chronic stress. Follow the above Five steps and clear the Atlas Myth from your perception to have a different but brighter look to life. Enjoy your coffee Macchiato Espresso is a bless, Give it a try.