MANAGING ATTENTION POOLS - Irony 'Inbox almost full at David Allen Company Forums'
Right now I am in the process of consolidating my activity.
I believe its something that happens as you free yourself from runway and get to spend more time at the higher altitudes - a fuller life reorganisation.
I have a non-profit (brokerage model)
- Associated development of software package which may result in a different company
A freelance consultancy/coaching career
Am in discussions with another sales system consultancy about joining their team
- But am doing straight sales work for them in the meantime
And as none of the above is hitting my desired income mark I'm applying for a more secure role (contract based) that can anchor me a few days a week.
That's FOUR discreet activities - that may branch off into more.
Managing the correspondence/interaction (and next actions) related to each of those is a challenge.
Testeq offered valuable advice in the recognition of 'RESOURCE REQUIRED' being the definition of context - however I'd say that would relate to time (being a resource) and the agreements set.
In forty minutes I enter a window where I can communicate with Singapore and manage the current sales role. Outside of that time it is not possible for me to Skype them or richly manage/forecast tasks..
The sales consultancy is with the main team that is in the UK that I have filtered off to a different e-mail environment, and thus a dashboard I keep seperate..
And I leave my phone open for urgent calls.
My non-profit also is managed through that dashboard but I keep the client work of the sales consultancy within a separate dashboard.
And the freelance consultancy is relatively easy to manage but I set up a BOLD label so I notice when new client contact occurs (mainly I track that in my diary).
I could filter all of these into Thunderbird BUT I find the psychological lens of a different interface allows me to bring a different mental energy and internal awareness frame to the work in front of me.
I guard my phone with something close to aggression.
I have recently pushed most of my outbound calls to Skype - and requested anything inbound come through e-mail and then we schedule any inbound calls.
That's because my phone is my interface for my partner. She can send me kisses and grocery lists and request a lunchtime chat whilst she is at work.
And in the evening that largely becomes my mother's interface - and she is one of the few people that bypasses any of that inbound scheduling rule.
Any friends I tend to manage via Facebook - but when it moves to scheduling I request we organise by e-mail as that then becomes a meeting rather than preference discussion and criteria for activity negotiation.
Anything that goes in my paper diary I attempt to keep as hard landscape but I do have a notes panel at the base of each week for floating things.
I do use Google Tasks and Google Calendar but only for events - so that I get e-mail reminders.. and mostly that's for events that I've paid under £50 for and would be okay to drop in the light of other priorities. Other stuff I schedule.
A dashboard is an interesting metaphor but much too mechanical for my liking.
I prefer the idea of sitting in the centre of a series of pools.
Varying sizes and with alternate liquids in each.
My capacity remains relatively solid - but in general the 'stuff' in each pool remains undefined. The three-fold nature of work comes in handy here where I can flip between DOING - DEFINING - (and that other thing, oh dear...)
But essentially I'll dip into a pool and define stuff and mould into an object which then floats and due to the fact it has been articulated it is easier to reapprehend - doesn't require more splashing about.
The weekly review allows me to stand up and look down at the objects in relative clarity, seeing whether some objects need to be disregarded, some more stuff is needed in a particular pool, or some of the projects (floating objects) need to be stretched into next actions and acted upon.
My analogy of the pool feels better as it isn't as hysterical..
I can move the pools closer and further from me (or move towards that particular pool) when I have committed to doing so.. a dashboard somehow implies a fixed facade to the operations of a single vehicle..
Something amongst my peers (mostly multiple SME/community managers) is rare.
So the idea that you may be beside one pool and an object start to amass algae or cluttering stuff around it as it floats in another pool is helpful - because it doesn't DEMAND your attention like a flashing fuel light.. but it is something that you can recognise will be a challenge to redress the longer you leave it.
And then of course there is always the possibility that the phone in your pocket might go off with your mother checking that you've sent off your passport for the 15th time just in case it lapses and you have to go through the system all over again.. Just a hypothetical scenario of course
The irony of me writing this today is that after 2months with empty e-inbox in two of my interfaces.. I received the notice:
'Inbox almost full at David Allen Company Forums'
I hadn't labeled or filed a single message or thread notification from the forums.
Thus, the first piece of stuff in my GTD cleansed inbox was a message from GTD Connect informing me that another of my contexts/areas of focus (the place where I go to seek coaching on my areas of focus) was covered in algae.
Time to step toward that pool and ensure my strategic arena doesn't become a site of attention dis-ease.
Right - Quick text to partner - Mobile on vibrate. Skype headset on. Open Thunderbird. Shift Gmail and Zoho into another workspace on the Ubuntu interface (with various tabs open around it as R&D/project support materials)
Paper pad on the desk next to the laptop. Bottle of water..
And in case I want a pool of reflection - big window in front of me to watch the squirrels chasing magpies.
Good day to you all.