Good morning dear reader & welcome to my world for another week. Today is Thursday & I begin writing to you this week @ the end of a day of reflection following comments by Barbara Kendall & Don Brash on The AM Show with Duncan Garner this morning. The topic @ the time I was listening, among many, was entitled the ‘missing middle’ & referred to the numerous people, like nurses for example, with incomes which had not risen, in what has been referred to as a ‘rock star economy’ where total growth had been good @ +3,5% however, regretfully growth per capita was lousy. Essentially wages have not been growing whereas costs have, & this was a policy failure…
The topic then moved to productivity, or lack of it, a regular favourite topic of mine [especially the lack of it…]. It appears, from the discussion, people are working harder & longer, however without more output per unit of input. This means I suspect we have all this new technology, regretfully not achieving anything new. According to Dr Brash we are: “marking time & it ain’t good enough”. But wait there is more: “it is not improving”; which would be my experience. In fact I believe it is getting worse.
As an analogy, it is like growing weeds when trying to get things done, rather than starting with actual goals & vision, then making our way to actually achieving the day-to-day work. Many professional & personal self-help training programs consistently emphasize so called higher horizon focus ~ clarity of purpose, values, vision, goals & such like… 1
So, what is the problem you may be asking dear reader? If you are trying to get to a beautiful lake, or a sports game, or concert, & you are caught in the weeds, ignoring the weeds & their constraints will produce nothing but frustration. You first need to know what weeds you are in, & how to get unhooked from them. If your boat has a serious leak, one does not care what direction it is pointed. More poignantly, you must get control of the situation & concentrate on where you should be going.
So, if your day-to-day world is out of control in any way, trying to focus on the bigger picture will only produce frustration & guilt over not effectively doing what you feel you should be doing.
According to David Allen, a unique aspect of getting things done is, start where you are, not where you should be. Getting things done helps people address whatever has their attention, right now, so they can free up mental space to more clearly target what they want to focus on. What is your desired outcome? And, what is your next action? The methodology helps you get clear on the next actions whether you are clearing the weeds of today or chasing tomorrows dream.
I find people often think getting things done & focus on the weeds because this is where they are ~ in the weeds. For example, again from David Allen, when people write down what has their attention, it is never: “Fulfil my Destiny as a human spirit on the planet.” Yet is this not the only project any of us has? Rather, what people write down is: buy cat-food, find a new baby-sitter, hire a new marketing manager, plan a holiday or fix the printer… And the list goes on.
The point is my friends, whatever has your attention becomes grist for the getting things done mill. Getting things done is about doing what you need to do appropriately & engage with life. If this sounds like higher horizon stuff being dictated to from someone above, one needs to make sure you make it operational within the getting things done process. If it is cutting weeds, getting things done is the best weed cutter.
If you feel you are in the ‘missing middle’ my friends perhaps we should all consider how to achieve more output per unit of input. This has been in my thoughts all day…
Thank you for taking the time to be with me once again. I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson, with my best wishes for the weekend ahead. I look forward to being with you all again next week.
1 David Allen from VitalSmarts ~ considered leading authority in the fields of organisational & personal productivity. He is the author of the bestseller Getting Things Done