Our segmented mechanistic society keeps us in a constantly changing kaleidoscope so we cling to practices and structures for some sense of predictability. Little by little, these structures become obsolete. New changes rub them out.Yet, we remain adamant with methods to our demise.
This is the ruin of individuals, enterprises and even families where parents can’t accommodate the reality of their own children facing different challenges than they faced while growing up. One of such methods is the use of To – Do list.
Out of our narcissistic quest for control in the new millennium, we discovered the power of goal setting. Allotted to each goal is a time frame. The alignment of these two in order of priority resulted in the use of a planner popularly known as To – Do List.Goal setting if approached from the right direction is powerful. It focuses our dreams and builds creative imagination. I could go on to roll out an encyclopedia of thought on the importance of goal setting but we are well aware of that already. It’s the reason we set goals at the beginning of the day, week, month and year in a To Do journal.
However, somewhere between our goal and daily action, we loose it. Either the circumstances change or we change. A new opportunity arises. Theres a shift in the economy. Someone new comes into the picture. Things go quite different from planned. If we stick to the goal, we become servants to it and wear ourselves out. If we abandon the goal we feel guilty over what we are doing, we cant enjoy what we do. Theres a gap. We cant seem to ‘walk our talk’. We feel trapped and controlled by situations. We are constantly responding to crises, putting out fires and never making out time to do what’s important. We may be brought to the reality of this gap in the most dramatic way. A loved one dies. Suddenly, shes gone. Then we see the stark reality of what could have been but wasn’t because we were too busy chasing the schedule on our planner.
As a victim of this never ending tension, I set out to study at the beginning of the year. According to my findings, here are the four dangers of To Do list and traditional time management technique, responsible for this dilemma.
1. The Danger of Value in Place of Principles
The primary paradigm of the millennium is one of control. To plan it, schedule it and not let anything slip. It’s the reason why we defend our values. These values influence our choice and ultimately what we plan to do. These values range from love to money, fame, security and achievement. Just because we value something does not mean it will create quality of life result. When what we value is in opposition to the natural laws of peace and order, we set up ourselves for failure. We cannot be a law unto ourselves. It will be great to be in control by sticking to what we value. But the fact is, we are not in control, principles are. When we pick up one end of the rod, we pick up the other end. To think we are in control is an illusion.
2. The Danger of Competence in Place of Character.
People are selfish. It never used to be so in the pre – millennial days. It’s the decrepitude of our third generational time planner. The power of will and independent achievement, of harnessing talents and building competence, through certificates, empires, institutions, and of climbing corporate ladders. It’s the reason people are essentially seen as resources to get things done faster. Relationships have become transactional. But the reality is that most of the greatest achievements and joys in life come from relationships that are transformational. We pursued competence on wall street and left character at main street. Competence without character is like climbing high a ladder leaning against the wrong wall.
Conscience is the base of character. Conscience is powerful because it creates mission and gives direction in the moment of choice. What determines that choice? Is it the societal mirror, agenda of others, values that are truncated from fundamental principles or a deep principle based, conscience connected fire within?
3. The Danger of Urgency in Place of Balance:
When we talk about time management, it seems ridiculous to worry about speed before direction about saving minutes when we may be wasting years. Many of the traditional time management tools actually feed the addiction. Daily planning and To- Do essentially keep us focused on prioritizing the urgent. And the more urgency we feel in our lives, the less importance we have.
Nature is evenly balanced. We cannot disturb her equilibrium for we know the law of cause and effect is the inexorable law of nature. But we as humans fail to find our own equilibrium. There are certain things that are fundamental to human fufillment. Any one of these needs left unmet, can become a hole that devours your energy and attention. If you have a financial problem, social trauma, emotional heartache or health issue, it could become a dominating factor that consumes your quality of life.
4. The Danger of Management in Place of Leadership:
Management controls the obtainable. Leadership questions the obtainable. Leadership is self awareness and self awareness involves a deep personal honesty. It comes from asking hard questions. It prompts us to start where we are and set realistic goals. No illusions, no excuses. It also doesn’t allow us cope with mediocrity. It helps us to recognize that there are principles independent of us. To understand the futility of trying to be a law unto ourselves.But the problem of focusing on To – DO list which is a management approach is that it keeps us focused on what’s right in front of us. What’s pressing, proximate and urgent. So we are essentially into prioritizing crisis.
Bottom line, the power to create quality of life is not in any planner. It is not in any tool. And it’s not limited to our ability to plan a day. Nobody is omniscient. We don’t know what opportunities, challenges, surprises, sorrows or unexpected joys the next moment in our lives will bring.
Reference: First Things First by Steven Covey