There are many different levels of being organised. There’s not being organised — where everything is a mess and you have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next. Then there’s the situationally aware state where you know where everything is and are prepared for anything.
Most people are somewhere between those two extremes — usually nearer the disorganised end.
When you decide to get yourself organised and focused on the things important to you such as your relationships, your career and your goals, you begin to move towards the situationally award end of the spectrum. This is where no matter what is thrown at you you are able to deal with it in an appropriate way. You won’t panic, you won’t get stressed and you will always be in a position to allocate sufficient time to manage whatever it is.
This means, on a day when you have back to back meetings all day — meetings that are important for a project that has a deadline coming up in three days — and your ailing mother is rushed to hospital, you are in a position to be able to cancel the meetings so you can spend the day with your mother without stress or concern.
Part of being situationally aware is understanding what is truly important to you. If you take a step back, an ailing parent rushed to hospital should always be your priority. Meetings at work related to an important deadline in this situation are not important (no, they are not important at all, seriously!) Even a job interview for your dream job is not as important as being there for your mother. A quick phone call to the right person would solve the problem in less than 30 seconds.
A job is a job and there are always plenty of jobs around. You only have one mother.
When you understand what is important and what is not, making the right decisions in times of chaos and drama is easy. You make your decisions through a filter of strong values and priorities. You understand your priorities and you live your values. You can make split-second decisions based on those values and priorities.
When you have all your projects and tasks organised in a solid system. Your important information is readily accessible — on all your devices — and you know what events are coming up, you are then in a situation where you are situationally aware.
Recently, I interviewed David Allen for my podcast and during our conversation he mentioned he hated backlog. Where you have an overflowing inbox, email waiting for a reply and other stuff you haven’t dealt with or made any decisions on. When you have a backlog of stuff it’s very hard to be situationally aware. There’s just too much going on in your mind. Having a clear mind, knowing everything is collected and organised and you have a plan to do the work puts you in a state of complete calm. It means if something good or bad happens, you have the clarity and space to deal with it appropriately and return to your normal state. To me it’s the Bruce Lee analogy. “Be like water”. Water will always act appropriately no matter what you put it in. Put it in a teapot and it becomes the teapot, put it in a square container and it becomes the square container.
When your mind is full of unprocessed stuff it is almost impossible to focus on the work that needs your focus. When you are trying to comfort a friend who is going through a hard time, you are unable to give them your total concentration because half your mind is still trying to deal with all the stuff you have still not made a decision about. You are unable to create a compelling story for your next presentation because you are still thinking about the engine warning light that came on in your car that morning and you have not externalised it or arranged for your car to go into the garage for a check. Having everything externalised and a decision made about what you need to do next is being like water. It’s about being fully engaged in what you are doing because your mind is clear of clutter and unprocessed decisions.
The reality is unexpected events are going to happen. It’s just life. What we need to be is ready for them. We need to have the clarity of mind to know that whatever is thrown at us we can handle it because we have everything that needs our attention organised and under control. It means you are fully aware of your obligations to your family, friends and work and you know that no matter what happens you will always be able to make the right decisions. It means that when you need to design the new business cards you become a fully engaged designer, when you need to deal with a poorly performing employee you become a fully engaged counsellor and when you need to take care of your ailing parent you become a fully engaged caring daughter or son.
“Be like water, my friend”
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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.
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