What’s Your Priority?

In this wireless era of high speed internet, smart phones and 24/7 accessibility, a lot of the work place stress we experience today comes from feeling caught in the middle of an expanding whirlwind of information and the belief that we have to do something about every single byte, NOW.

I remember when memos arrived in a stamped envelope. How did we ever get business done without voice mail, email or a smart phone PDA? Well, maybe the more important question is how do we survive with them?

Back in the day, a former colleague of mine would wait a day before responding to many of the urgent messages he received from his direct reports. More often than not, he told me, the ‘problems’ are neither important nor urgent. “They generally get resolved or just go away without my intervention.”

I’m not sure if ignoring all incoming information is the best stress solution or a good business strategy but I do believe that periodically we need to delete the less important stuff to give the high value, high priority ones more focus and energy.

Here are two ways to reduce inner turbulence as you sort, trim, filter, collect, combine or organize what’s in front of you and help you more efficiently decide what to do about it.

  1. When you’re feeling information overload, take a minute to stop your inner dialogue and disengage from the stressful feeling often associated with urgency. Take a couple of deep breaths and then activate a positive feeling. This will allow your calmer, more balanced self to discern what’s important and needs your attention.
  2. Once you have a shorter, more focused list of what should take up your time, repeat #1 and ask yourself, “What’s the best way to respond?”

Don’t become the next link in an ever-growing, ever-faster moving information chain. Add value to what you communicate by letting your own common sense be your guide as you decide what to pass on, how to deliver it and who should get it.

Take care,
Kim Allen