Exercise Your C.C.O.R.E.
Just as in physical exercise, focusing on your core is all important in your day-to-day management activity.
"Opportunity is lost by most people because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work" - Thomas Edison
"It is the failure to discover where we are at any moment that keeps us from realizing where we most want to go." - Larry Crabb
Maintaining a strong physical core is an all-important part of a well-rounded fitness program. Muscles around your trunk and pelvis area, your body's core, are often the most neglected ... yet they are key to both getting in and maintaining good shape. Why? Because doing core exercises train your lower back, abdomen, and hips to work in harmony with each other, and that plays a leading role in contributing to better balance and stability for your entire body. Your body depends on a stabile and strong core ... it's mundane and drudingly painstaking work, but it pays off in big-time health benefits.
Just like your physical core, you need to pay attention to your day-to-day management "core." What do I mean by that? Well, it's the central fundamentals of the Getting Things Done® (or, GTD®), methodology. C-C-O-R-E to be exact ... a consistent, day-to-day working through of five key steps: Capture, Clarify, Organize, Reflect (Review) and Engage (Execute). It's mundane and disciplined work to learn to cultivate (it gets progressively easier), but it pays off in big-time productivity and health benefits. Let's take a look at each exercise element.
You've probably got a lot of stuff you're juggling in your life ... a lot that your thinking about at any given moment. Where is that "stuff" parked? Most likely, it's rolling around in your head, and your head is a poor file cabinet. We do need to collect the things that are commanding our attention, but the place to do that needs to be outside of our mind to free it up from the energy-sapping task of trying to maintain and categorize it all, which your mind naturally gravitates to when you keep stuff there. So there needs to be some external placeholders to capture everything that comes into your minds radar ... there needs to be identified "collection buckets." They can be as low- or high-tech as you're comfortable with, but you should have only as many as you need and as few as you can get by with. Examples are a wire-mesh in-basket, a notepad (electronic or paper), a voice recorder, or email inboxes. Using these tools, you'll need to corral everything that could be said to be "incomplete" in your world, across both your personal and work life. Then you need to regularly review the items and do something with them ... regularly empty your collection tools. To wit, the next core activity.
- Trash It (If it's no longer needed).
- Incubate It (no action is needed right at the moment, but something might need to be done later).
- Reference It (put in a reference placeholder; might be useful for something else sometime down the road).
- Will it take less than 2 minutes to do? If so, Do It.
- Can it be passed to someone else to do? If so, Delegate It (and track it).
- Will it take longer than 2 minutes, and I'm the right one to do it? If so, Defer It (and track it).
Alright ... for those non-actionable items, you've either tossed it, filed it for later reminder (a "tickler" file of sorts), or have put it in a reference system of some sort (a file cabinet or portable folder rack on your desk). For those now clarified actionable items, you now have to think about what the most appropriate set of reviewable reminder vehicles will be. These will constitute your action reminder lists and other support-type elements. You'll need:
- A calendar
- A reminder list for projects.
- Storage or files for project support materials.
- Reminder lists for your deferred and project next actions.
- A reminder list for those actions you are waiting for from others.
- A someday/maybe list for items to consider acting on in the future.
- Runway - Next, physical and visible actions to take.
- 10,000 Ft - Your projects. Outcomes you want to achieve with multi-step actions.
- 20,000 Ft - Areas of focus and responsibilty. Your important spheres/roles in your personal and work life that need to be maintained.
- 30,000 Ft - Goals and objectives. What you need to accomplish over the short- to mid-range timeframe (12 to 24 months).
- 40,000 Ft - A vision of where you want to be, over a longer-range timeframe. What do you desire things to look like as you achieve "success" in your life goals?
- 50,000 Ft - Purpose and core values. Your concrete reasons, or intentions, for doing things; the principles you base your life on.
Just as a strong physical core acts as a stabilizing linkage to both your upper and lower body, disciplining yourself to consistently work through your management core has a ripple effect horizontally and vertically ... in both the tactical and strategic direction. The more you work on clearing the decks of the seemingly mundane "runway" of the day-to-day inputs vying for your attention and commitment through the use of a great management system like GTD®, the more you'll be able to breathe the clear and elevated air afforded by increased energy, clarity, expansive and expressive thinking, and creative perspective about what lies on the road ahead. You'll be able to think better, relax more in the heat of day-to-day battle, and find yourself moving and engaging more effortlessly through the day's activities. As David Allen counsels, "The more complete your [management] system is, the more you'll trust it. And the more you trust it, the more you'll be motivated to keep it", and "Every decision to act is an intuitive one. The challenge is to migrate from hoping it's the right choice to trusting it's the right choice."
Now that's flying high ... that's working smarter ... that's living better ... that's engaging well with yourself and your world! So come on ... exercise that C.C.O.R.E.!
Want to learn more about GTD® and our Productivity Coaching? Click Here: Get Productive with GWPS.