Systems are Not Always Easy Part 2: Unblocking
In part one of this post I talked about what I feel the hardest part of every system is, maintence. I talked about identifying tasks that take up large amounts of mental stress and what you should maybe do with them. Hint, throw them out or defer them. What if you really need to do this thing though?
I believe there is very few things we need to do, but there is a lot of things you really should do in your system. Some of those things you should do might be friction items that are not getting done. For these probleamatic items I have a special method of reviewing however this process isn’t free and takes both time and energy. I don’t always do this soon enough which is why sometimes things break down. If I haven’t done this in a while my normally 30 minute review can quickly ballon out into an hour or more, but sometimes you need to do that processing up front instead of every time you look at your list.
First off I remind myself that the concept of need is an crutch; I don’t need to do anything and saying the word need doesn’t empower me or the task. However I should do this because the consequence of not doing it is…? Then I write down the consequence of not doing the thing. Now that I know what happens if I don’t do it I write down what happens if I DO compete the thing.
Now is a good time to pause and look at the two things I wrote down and ask myself “Is this important and is this urgent?” If this is neither important nor urgent then it can be tossed into the whatever pile. If this is important or urgent then I should proceed and if it’s both important and urgent then I know I absolutely need to figure out how to make this easier for me to do, or find a way to delegate it ASAP. I can’t really tell you what makes something important to you but try to keep in mind if everything is important, then nothing is important.
After thinking about that I make the outcome of completing the task the name of a project. Once I’ve establish this is now a project, not just a “simple task” I think about anything that is in the way of me doing the thing. Do I need to know a number, or some business hours, do I have to schedule some time to do it, do I need a person? I try to figure out if the reason I am not doing the task is because I’m missing a step, then I make that next step the thing to do and cross off the old task. The old one has stress and emotion tied to it so we can throw it right out.
Now (hopefully) I have an outcome based project, a new simpler or at least more concise task to do, and a note to myself reminding me of what happens if I don’t do it. Now I’ve cleared out the stressors and can move forward! Problem solved!
But wait? What if there is nothing missing? What if that was the simplest next action and I make a project and write it down and I still don’t want to do the thing and what if the idea of calling the clinic just stresses me out so much and I don’t want to do it because OMG uhhhhhhhggggg heck darn.
Well it’s important, and urgent, and it’s the next action and I still don’t want to do it… so I put it on my calendar. Yep. I will schedule 30 minutes out of my day in the morning and go get some coffee and treat myself to something I wouldn’t normally eat and do the thing I do t wanna do.
I find by scheduling it, doing it early, and surrounding it by incentives makes things that suck, suck less.
Also finding an accountability buddy, or accoutabilabuddy as I like to say, is indispensable. It might be hard to find someone at first (or it might be too easy) but I’m sure someone out there is willing to give you that disapproving stare and tell you that you absolutely gotta do this thing. I would not have learned Japanese on my own, and I still wouldn’t be doing it either if not for having a regular study partner to both keep me in check, and also for me to keep them motivated as well.
So if you are having problems with your system; ask yourself why but don’t take the first answer. Keep digging in and make sure it’s not what you are putting into the system, or that the things in your system need more processing still. Your system shouldn’t be the source of your stress, it should be what is helping enable you to get more done and not forget what really matters most to you. All systems have an overhead and require maintenance but your gains should be exponential if you tend to it.