April 19, 2010
Be a Big Picture Person: How to Focus on What Really Matters
The world seems to conspire against us when it comes to filtering out the truly unimportant and seeing the Big Picture. From the time we wake up to the time we go to bed, we are saddled with tasks, distractions and responsibilities that have very little effect in the grand scheme of things.
Our priorities are often misaligned due to stress inflicted by others. It shouldn’t be a surprise when we confuse the urgent with the truly important. For example, if you’re working on an important presentation but your phone rings or you see a new email pop up on your screen, what do you do? Like most of us you have been trained to attend to the urgent so you pick up the phone or read the email. WRONG!
Distractions like that derail you from the job at hand and detract from your productive mindset. When faced with situations like this, you have to fight your natural inclinations and filter the truly unimportant from your life.
First, ask yourself what you can let slide without serious consequences. Not answering the phone, reading email or checking your Facebook account isn’t going to result in the end of the world in most cases. I know, I know, those things are good ways to break up the day, but make sure your whole day isn’t a “break”. Take a step back and prioritize your goals and activities and see what provides the most value to you, your family, company and other important people in your life.
Instead of going through life feeling busy yet not getting too much done, you’ll begin to tackle the big projects while turning everything else into background noise. Everybody has to deal with the mundane in their lives and often times our work responsibilities entail going through the repetitive and boring. But with simple time management and organizational skills, you can put those things in their place and attend to higher level activities more often.
Plan Ahead…Way Ahead
One key way to help you separate the urgent from the important is to have a long-term vision of your life. Now that doesn’t mean you have to know exactly what you will be doing in 5, 10 or 15 years but take some time to imagine where you want to be. Envision what it will take to reach this goal and how you’ll feel once you’ve arrived at this place.
Then when your faced with a decision on whether or not you should attend to one thing or another, you can simply rely on your goals and see if it fits into your overall plan. If it doesn’t, then delegate it for a later time or completely disregard it.
The Big Picture is Your Picture
Being able to see the big picture, focus on the long term and not be controlled by the minutia life throws your way will go a long way towards happiness. Learn to let the truly unimportant slide and you’ll find that you’re more productive and happier.