Monday, September 18, 2000

Focus on the big picture


Time management expert urges people to prioritize

        Julie Morgenstern knows about control and organizing. The author of Organizing from the Inside Out, Ms. Morgenstern will speak and sign her newest book, Time Management from the Inside Out, Wednesday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, , Rookwood Pavilion, Madison and Edwards roads, Norwood. She spoke with Enquirer business reporter John Eckberg about time:

       

        Question: You hear coaches tell athletes in key situations: Don't try to do too much. Trying to do too much and not doing anything right isn't that the virus of our time?

        Answer: We live in what I call Our Overloaded Times. Because so much is possible, we feel like kids in a candy shop, we grab too much and try do it all. The best thing to do is pull back and get the big-picture view. I recommend that in every major department of your life — work, family, health, finances, community, friends — you name one or two big-picture goals and that becomes the peak of your arrow, what you focus on.

        Companies need to look at what they are trying to accomplish: best service in the city? In the country? Or are you trying to reach a certain sales volume? Trying to create a work environment that attracts the best people to your company? Then you break it down into how you are going to accomplish that in at least six activities. Then it becomes very clear what you can do and how to do it.

        Q: Part of that process will inevitably involve delegation. What do most people fear about delegation and are those fears justified?

        A. The most common fear about delegation is that if a manager delegates, others will learn they are replaceable — dispensable. So managers frequently hoard all the tasks, and then they don't get to them at all. It's delusional thinking. I have never found a person who was truly dispensable. It is usually the individual's unique approach to decision-making, problem-solving and ideas that got them where they are.

        Pass on the tasks so your mind and time are free so you can do what it is that makes you indispensable.

        Q: Procrastination functions. Don't problems frequently get solved if a manager simply does nothing? What is the problem with procrastination?

        A. What some identify as procrastination is not. Actually, it's prioritizing. If something is not urgent, then there is no need to make a decision. None of us will ever do everything that comes our way, even the things we have decided to do, you can't get to it all. Being smart is to look at big-picture goals, truly focus on what is critical and most important. People procrastinate because they do not have enough information. It's the wise thing to do.

        Q: Do you actually write down the goals where you can see them each day?

        A. Yes, on a bulletin board — in your wallet — you have to focus on them at a minimum twice a day. You start every day looking at the card and end every day looking at the card. And if things start to get crazy, you get overwhelmed with decisions, pull out your card and get yourself centered again.

        What is your work about? What is the most direct path? Those are the questions to ask.

       



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