This will help you decide what to do next…
Some people are doers & starters. Some people are doers & finishers.
Some people are both and some people are great at all the stuff in-between starting and finishing a project. Some people struggle to start or finish or do anything.
Regardless of what we are trying to build, create, write, or dream up everyone struggles to some degree with deciding what to do next. What do I do next?
Often there are thousands of seemingly important things to do or decisions to make. So many priorities to take care of…
HOLD UP! STOP!
You were just going to go with me on that weren’t you? “So many priorities…”
No there actually aren’t sooooo many priorities. Here’s what I mean:
Up until about the 1940s the word “priorities” barely existed and was not so commonly used as the singular form “priority”.
Looking at the etymology of the word, “priority” from about the 17th century to 1940 was only used to apply to one thing. One thing. What is THE priority? Not what are my ten top priorities? Peeps didn’t be using the plural.
How very modern of us to think that we ought to have a long list of “priorities” that so often only leaves us scratching our heads with no discernible next step.
No matter what you want or what you are trying to achieve there is always a one next actionable step. Sometimes you have to look hard for it. Things get built when every day you show up and do the next actionable step. Not the next million steps or the next 20 priorities all at once.
The president Dwight D. Eisenhower had a pretty nifty way of deciding what tasks to focus on each day. He came up with this principle:
Here is an excerpt from https://www.eisenhower.me/ explaining the matrix:
“We call the first quadrant Do first as its tasks are important for your life and career and need to be done today or tomorrow at the latest. You could use a timer to help you concentrate while trying to get as much of them done as possible.
An example of this type of task could be to review an important document for your manager.
The second quadrant we call Schedule. Its tasks are important but less urgent. You should list tasks you need to put in your calendar here.
An example of that could be a long-planned restart of your gym activity.
Professional time managers leave fewer things unplanned and therefore try to manage most of their work in the second quadrant, reducing stress by terminating urgent and important to-dos to a reasonable date in the near future whenever a new task comes in.
The third quadrant is for those tasks you could delegate as they are less important to you than others but still pretty urgent. You should keep track of delegated tasks by e-mail, telephone or within a meeting to check back on their progress later.
An example of a delegated task could be somebody calling you to ask for an urgent favor or request that you step into a meeting. You could delegate this responsibility by suggesting a better person for the job or by giving the caller the necessary information to have him deal with the matter himself.
The fourth and last quadrant is called Don’t Do because it is there to help you sort out things you should not being doing at all.
Discover and stop bad habits, like surfing the internet without a reason or gaming too long, these give you an excuse for not being able to deal with important tasks in the 1st and 2nd quadrant.”
I unapologetically am going to wrap this up with a nautical themed saying I first heard from a mentor and friend:
It is easier to steer a ship in motion.
So start moving.
Zach Hughes is the founder of Lost Harbor Music. Zach is an independent music producer & recording engineer based out of Nashville, TN.