Monday, February 7, 2011

Projects and Tasks

Monday's always bring me back to reality with tasks piled up from the previous week and projects on the go. One of the challenges of "Getting Things Done" (a great book by the way!) is that the urgent often overtakes the important. This causes us to get done many things that are not important and neglect things that are extremely important. There are four quadrants for time.
1. Urgent but not important. (This is the most wasteful and painful area)
2. Important but not urgent. (This area gets neglected the most and needs the most intentional effort)
3. Urgent and important. (This area is not much of a problem for most people)
4. Not urgent and not important. (As strange as if seems, this area can take over a person's life. We long for stressless situations and sometimes we can default to these things if we are overly stressed or anxious. Watching TV by yourself, or surfing the Internet falls in this category.)

Here is the 'big aha' for me lately. Projects tend to bear more long term results than tasks do. I need to stay focused on projects. But projects often lack clarity. Actually projects need to be broken down into small tasks. When we have something that needs to be done but we have not named the next action (task) we tend to be frozen (paralyzed) and unable to do anything except feel the weight of the project. Taking the time to look at a project and NAME the next action (task) is one of the most important things I do in order to stay in the zone of effectiveness.