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18 Jun

Remove the spanner from the works

Datum: 2024-06-18 08:04
An old, greasy, and oily machine part with visible pipes and bolts.

When the work­day is intense and the tem­po is high, you will do best to get the most urgent things done first, mean­ing those which are rel­e­vant to the goals you are respon­si­ble for accom­plish­ing. How­ev­er, some­times you have to pri­or­i­tize some­thing com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent instead.

For you who pre­fer lis­ten­ing to read­ing, this post is also avail­able as an episode of the Done!” pod­cast:

That tiny irri­tat­ing thing

I am sure you have some­thing that needs to be done or fixed but which is not urgent and will not nec­es­sar­i­ly bring you clos­er to attain­ing your goals. If we are going to be hon­est with our­selves and abide by the pri­or­i­ty rules from the school­book (or rather, from my struc­ture book), the task will most like­ly nev­er be prioritized.

Yet, it both­ers you. You get upset when you think about it. It chafes like a peb­ble in your shoe. Like a buzzing fly in august on an oth­er­wise silent and sun­ny patio, it irri­tates you and makes it hard for you to think of any­thing else — espe­cial­ly all the oth­er things that have top priority. 

Get rid of it

When this is the case, the right thing to do is let­ting every­thing else be for a while and solve the seem­ing­ly small thing that is the span­ner in the works. Not until you have fixed that lit­tle annoy­ing what­ev­er it was, will you get enough peace of mind to gain momen­tum and get on with the actu­al­ly impor­tant tasks.

Do this

If you have got a seem­ing­ly insignif­i­cant task that still draws your atten­tion, take a look in your cal­en­dar and see if there is room to get it done soon. Maybe right now? Or, lat­er today? If not, per­haps lat­er this week?

If you have got a tight sched­ule, book the first avail­able slot in your cal­en­dar to get this thing out of your way, and you will at least have done what you can right now to get rid of what is need­less­ly both­er­ing you.

Feel the flow

If you instant­ly get rid of the lit­tle dis­turb­ing fly in your job-sat­is­fac­tion oint­ment, you will be able to focus on what is more impor­tant quick­er. You will work with more flow and ease and will join the hap­py crowd that enjoys a work­day with few­er dis­tur­bances and less has­sle. That would make it worth the effort, wouldn’t you agree?

What did you solve?

If you took action and fixed some­thing that has been both­er­ing you for a long time, tell me what it was

(By the way, there are at least four oth­er tricks to help you pri­or­i­tize impor­tant tasks.)

There's more where this came from

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If you want more tips on how to create good structure at work, there are many ways to get that from me - in podcasts, videos, books, talks and other formats.

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