Steve Jones sent me this link on time management that discusses two things – getting ‘ambushed’ at the start of the day with unexpected tasks and the power of ritual. It was timely (as it were) because I’d just had a miserable day where I had some goals to hit and spent most of the day reacting to calls and requests.
The article puts the emphasis on making your list first, and then reading email. I like that, but I’m not sure it’s always possible depending on the job and situation. In the case of this particular day I elected to prioritize things that I felt would benefit from immediate attention at the expense of my planned agenda. Good decision or bad? It felt bad at the time because it wasn’t what I wanted to do – I wanted to finish the final 2% of something I’d been on for longer than planned and put it away for good.
Ritual, aka patterns, are definitely one of the ways that most people win, including me. They aren’t inherently good or bad, they just are. I don’t think you get the big wins by never changing from the pattern, but you don’t get the big wins by deviating a lot either.
Not sure I’ve learned a lesson though I know it’s there to be learned. One thought that does come to mind is that I think this is marginally easier when you work on or with a team because you can get some feedback - ‘should I change course for this?’. I usually work solo and just have to make the call on day to day stuff.