Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Now, which fire was I supposed to put out first?

Back when I was gainfully employed and someone else was paying the bills, my company sent me to one of those "professional development" workshops. It was surprisingly helpful (believe me, if you've been to one of these, you know why it's surprising). One of the main insights I gained that day came in the form of a Punnett-type square that looked a little like this (click to enlarge):
Essentially, the presenter said, when deciding which tasks to do, we often choose ones based on urgency rather than importance. These are the many fires we end up putting out daily--essential or not. And sometimes the most important, but non-urgent, tasks are left undone.

I too often fall into this trap. It's the pressing but not necessarily essential emails and convos that can take up a whole day, while other perhaps more boring but often more important tasks I should be doing (filling out forms, updating item descriptions) get pushed back once again.

This is one of the many reasons it's been both exciting and oh-so-helpful to have an intern, even if it's only a couple of hours per week, to whom I can assign these important tasks that often get left behind. In less than a month Lara has checked a dozen long-languishing tasks off the piddix to-do list including a complete re-design of this blog (isn't it lovely?).

Recently the Oregonian published a six-point test to identify the most "proper" and legal internships (rather than just unpaid work) including:

"2. The internship is offered for the benefit of the student or trainee; the position may actually hamper the business."

It's an important point to make. My Mondays especially are spent in prep work and meetings revolving around the internship and it often feels like I get little "real" work done. But then I look and see what the intern is accomplishing--those thorny essential-but-languishing tasks--and it is so worth it. Thanks Lara!


Lara said...

I should be thanking YOU! But since you mentioned it: You are very welcome. :)

Dyche Designs said...

What a lovely post. Now to concentrate on those important, not urgent tasks. :0)

piddix said...

Thanks. And yes, it's hard sometimes when I know what I should be doing (my new portfolio) and instead am doing more fun things, like post here!

Crazy4Art4U said...

Wow did this post hit a nerve! I am feeling so overwhelmed right now what with changing direction for my etsy shop plus trying to get two different websites up and running as well as tending to my used book business on Amazon. I never seem to get anything finished and having time to get to my artwork for my etsy site...well... So, thanks bunches for this post it has made me rethink how I approach all of these tasks!

piddix said...

"Overwhelmed" is often exactly how I feel, but also like I'm spinning my wheels and moving nowhere fast. Basically, just working for the sake of working without really looking at my priorities in a deep way. It's something I most definitely have to work on.