Logging sixteen hours a day ‘doing something’ – going and going with full schedules creates the feeling that progress is underway. But is it? I can’t tell you the number I’ve times I’ve spent a week where every day was full of urgent tasks, emails, texts, phone calls and got to the end of Friday with the realization that the two most important things on my desk on Monday were untended to … no extra attention, no extra bandwidth was available. Now, the workaholic in all of us says ‘that’s what Saturdays are for’ but the Monday through Friday alert time is irrevocably lost and what if we could have applied ourselves to the prime tasks? How much would we have furthered our lofty (or mundane) important goals?
I’ve seen organizations drive off a cliff while everyone in the group worked hard on urgent tasks that had no direct bearing on its core. There was a belief that logging hours, banging out hundreds of emails, texting, traveling, redoing presentations, reworking spreadsheets was contributing. Right tactics were urgently worked while the strategy – the core – was utterly neglected. Noise is different from Resistance in that it gives the illusion of progress. I swear some people love to consciously wallow in Noise: the urgent, unimportant tasks. We’re busy, we’re working hard, don’t ask what’s important. Noise affects organizations and individuals. I pay attention to Noise and always try to separate it from the Essential.
There’s a common phrase that life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans. Bullshit! We don’t get a ‘do-over’ in this living stuff and if we don’t spend our time – our irreplaceable, alert lifespan – on the most important things to us,