I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get so focused on the task at hand that I simply can’t seem to pull my head out and move on to what I need to do next. Part of my problem is not being able to recognize when I’ve reached “just enough”. The other part is that even when I do recognize it, I don’t always act on it. Knowing is not enough, you have to also do something about it. Sometimes things work out for the better, but a lot of times they don’t. I know not everybody has that struggle, but I bet there are more than a few OCD challenged folks reading this who can relate. If so, read on.
Our multifaceted lives and unending pursuit of enduring success effectively results in a landscape full of moving targets we deem essential to our success; the targets can appear unexpectedly and are often unpredictable. If part of success is being able to hit these targets, then how do you effectively go about it? One way is to use the same strategy employed by highly successful professionals called “switch and link”. “switch and link” is the ability to switch the focus your full attention with lightning speed among activities and people in different realms. So the approach is simple:
- Focus on one task until you get a specific sense of satisfaction (just enough)
- Move on to the next priority that then receives your full focus and emotional energy
Unfortunately, activity boundaries in life aren’t clear cut and while a just enough/switch-link approach is simple, it can also be very hard. The good news is that we know it’s a learnable skill that gets better with practice. It also turns out people can exercise this ability within a particular task (the caring component of helping someone while also learning a new task) as well as between tasks (focusing on writing and then quickly shifting to engage with your grandson when he pops in your office). The approach even reflects knew information about “multitasking” in the common sense of the word. That is, you can multitask but you can’t multifocus. What we call multitasking is actually “time-slicing”. In order to time-slice effectively, you have to know when you’ve arrived at “just enough” so that you can then “switch and link”, or move on to the next best thing with lightening speed and focus.
Two core productivity principles underly the critical skill of “switch and link”. The first requires personal leadership the other personal management
- Know what’s important (your priorities)
- Putting priorities first
In addition to the approach above, asking myself the following 5 questions has been extremely helpful for making practical application and maximizing my forward movement:
- “What’s the Priority?”
- “What’s the Trade-off (what are you going to give up)?”
- “Where is the Leverage?”
- “What is the Synergy?”
- “What’s best next”
Knowing what’s important isn’t always as easy as it sounds, but its easier if you’ve started thinking differently about success by using a Kaleidoscope strategy or framework. As with all frameworks this one isn’t perfect. What it does provide is a reality-based perspective from which to better view and size-up your options and in turn enables decision-making to be much more effective and manageable.
We all have an approach to decision making, whether we are aware of it or not. But only when you are aware are you able to to do something about it. How’s your’s working for you? Please comment and share your wealth, I would love to hear about.