Years ago there was a fashion when companies were recruiting, to put candidates through an ‘In-tray exercise’.
The basic idea was that you gave your applicant a stack of documents representing the kind of material they might receive in a typical day, then watched how they dealt with them (apparently tipping them all into the wastepaper basket and heading for the pub wasn’t the way to get the job).
At its heart this process was all about prioritisation, about what to do first, what to do second and what (perhaps) to simply ignore.
I think it’s pretty much accepted that it’s impossible to succeed in one’s working life without being able to juggle tasks and weigh priorities.
But I wonder if we always apply the same sort of sensible thinking to our private lives?
When you face countless demands on your time, do you treat each of them as being of equal importance? Do you simply tackle them in the order in which they arrive on your doorstep?
At the end of the day, will you have ticked off tasks of lesser consequence, while the bigger issues still loom over you?
Figuring out what’s important to you can make a lot of sense in such circumstances.
In my own case, for instance, regular contact with people makes a massive difference to me, but when I’m busy I can end up spending all my time on the task in hand rather than getting in touch with others.
So if your tasks today were contained in an In-tray, which bits would be the really important ones?
And which might you safely ignore?