Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fuzzy Organization

Imagine if you will a chart that shows the value of different products. One axis represents quality, the other represents price. Our products are represented by dots, and so we have dots scattered throughout the graph.
In one corner is represented the ultimate value- lowest price, highest quality. In another corner is represented the worst value- highest price, lowest quality. The key to reading this type of chart is not to look for the dot farthest along either axis. If you do that, you'll either get the cheapest or the highest quality, but it may be a very bad value for your money. What you want to look for is the dot that is closest to corner that represents ultimate value, regardless of where that dot falls along either axis.

When it comes our lives, time is money, and we have to search out what ways we can spend our time that produce the most value for the time spent. For example, if 5 minutes spent doing one activity were to insure that my family would stay healthy for many years, that would be high value. However, if I spent 5 minutes trying to get the doormat outside positioned juuuust right, that would be very bad value. I would only do that if I had time to kill. More than likely an out of place doormat would get about 6 seconds of foot shoving tops regardless of how successful my foot shoving had been.

It is helpful to mentally recast our to-do lists in terms of value charts. Obviously, we can't perfectly plot our tasks this way, thus my title; it is more of a generalization that goes on. But as we focus on different tasks thinking like this, the value level becomes clear. As we begin to do those things which we know have the most value for our time, nearby tasks of close value will draw us to give attention to them. Our mind is built to work in a relational manner like this.

Sometimes we have a task, which is intrinsically low value, but very urgent. Such as, paying bills on time. These are the kind of things that should be scheduled. Or, if you prefer, they recieve increased value as the deadline draws near, on account of their urgency.

This is the way I work. Yes everything needs to be done, but it doesn't all have to be done today. And, as per my last post, many of my tasks do not require a high level of attention to detail, making them lesser beasts than they might seem at first. So in my mind, all of my tasks automatically assume positions relative to the others, in terms of value and need for attention to detail. Urgency is factored into the value dimension.

Because deadlines are the last thing on my mind I stop every couple of days and review my deadlines and up the value of certain tasks accordingly.

Sometimes kicking back and relaxing is the most valuble thing I can do, given my mental/emotional condition.

No comments: