There's a bit in this chapter of Save the World & Still be Home for Dinner
[Click on the pdf download link to read the full chapter - the teaser's not what I want to talk about.] that should be required reading for everyone I've ever worked with.
The answer to our stress is supposed to be something called work-life balance. This is achieved, we are told, through time management. But it’s an illusion. We try to balance work, family, and play on a preset schedule. The problem is, nothing important ever happens on schedule. Great opportunities and painful crises usually show up inconveniently.
Indeed. And particularly fun to see this coming from a dude who used to train for Covey (the "7 Habits of
Highly Effective People" dude), whose life's work was all about managing time and tasks more "efficiently". If you can't tell from the snark, I dislike the proscriptive
Whole New Way of Living approach. I prefer to think of value and values, which are unique to each person - and that's what Marre is now doing. Obviously he's right, now that he agrees with me!
I know a fair number of people for whom every task seems equally important as the next, and are caught up in an intense feeling of busy-ness that leaves them with a looming sense of something undone all the time. This, I think, is that "illusion of urgency". Marre goes on to attribute this sense of everything as urgent, every project or activity having the same priority, as a result of the constant connection many of us have to information and work. I'm not sure that's entirely true - that connection is just a thing; our relationship to it is what throws us off balance.
There's an old-school management psych term: "locus of control"
that I think is in play here. Feeling caught up in this Grid thing seems to me like a form of externality. I like
my ability to plug into various types of work when the urge strikes, and not on a particularly fixed schedule [This is sometimes at odds with the sort of work I do for pay, since it needs people to interact directly & therefore to agree on when and how to do so.], but then, my locus of control is so internal it's annoying.
I'm still affected by the MUST DO EVERYTHING NOW OMG HOW DO WE MANAGE OUR TIME sense of urgency that pervades work & communication, though - and that's where value comes in. Rather than responding to the OMG of the moment, I try to think in terms of what I value, or if that's irrelevant, what is of greatest value to whomever (the latter is a newer addition to my thinking, thanks to a few years of Agile and exposure to Lean).