There are days when I feel like such a failure and feel like I just can’t answer the question: What Do I Do Next?
Do I clean off my desk? Finally follow up with non-urgent email? Work on the book? Design the next planning retreat? The voices of all the experts ring in my ears, First things first. Focus on the A priorities. Quadrant 2 activities.
Then there’s the other voice: Yes, but I have to get organized first.
My father was a warm, caring pediatrician. Filled with energy and passion, he loved children (and adults) and worked to help them get healthier. In addition to his busy practice, he was a prolific writer and gave many speeches both live and for the media. At age 85, still writing, speaking and being an advocate for health, he died suddenly – just the way he would have wanted.
The day after his death, in his home office, I read the inspirational saying above his desk: God give me work til my life is done and life til my work is done. Underneath it sat a stack of file folders. He’d written a priority letter on each of the folders. I smiled. My father had no “B” priorities. There were A, AA, AAA, and AAAA. And guess what – most were AAA and AAAA. His desk was a mess. Someone had even made a small framed needlepoint piece that said, This mess is a place.
Yet I can never remember my father saying, I have to organize my papers! He focused on the people and relationships in his life. He did the work that gave him joy.
One of my father’s great gifts was seeing people as individuals. He was not a one-size fits all physician, or parent. That was his greatest success. It had nothing to do with his papers or his messy desk.
If you are wondering what’s next, if you have all the “little things” in order and none of the big, give yourself a break and ask yourself what’s truly important in your life. Remember “clearing your list” might be an excuse for not taking on what’s really important.
BUT, If your big priorities are getting bogged down by disorganization, ask yourself what the foundational pieces are that will support your staying focused on what’s most important to you. Spend an hour a day keeping that foundation strong.
If you need to know what’s next forthisweek, make your number one priority taking time to list all those things and then blocking time on your calendar.
So what’s your number one priority for the day?
Until next Tuesday.