Is Putting Things in Boxes Really the Answer?

I felt her angst. 

In a recent conversation, a colleague and friend for whom I have the deepest respect, sighed deeply, and spoke about how overwhelmed she is feeling these days what with the competing demands of a young family, a demanding job, and a never-ending tsunami of data and information coming at her.

Despite being a woman who is clearly creative, resourceful, and innovative, she went on to speak enviously about those she knew who were good at routines and practices that allowed them to put things - meaning tasks and “to-dos” - in boxes.

While I suppose on the surface that seems like a good idea, is that really what any of us want? Do we want leaders and managers who are good at putting things in boxes? 

While it sounds neat and tidy, aren’t we doing that at the risk of ignoring everything that doesn’t fit within our existing boxes?

Quite frankly, as much as I too desperately long to be organized, in a world that is constantly changing, the idea of boxes scares me a bit. They scare me because the reality is that we live in chaotic times. Rather than emphasizing boxes, maybe it would be wiser to embrace the chaos as a reality?

Instead of trying to put things in boxes perhaps we need to instead simplify where we can, and secondly, prioritize on the basis of our values.

For instance, as this woman suggested, she has simplified her mornings by having the same thing for breakfast each day. I do the same because it allows me to ease into the day by eliminating at least one set of decisions.

Secondly, when we don’t have enough time or resources, we should be proactive about prioritizing rather than simply reacting to what’s coming at us. That’s why understanding and living by our values (as well as those of the organizations where we work) is going to become more and more valuable.

Prioritizing on the basis of our values is what ultimately will help us determine what is important and essential not only on the job but in our lives.

Tools like this one designed to help you determine what’s most important in life may perhaps be a start to not only reduce the amount of stress in our lives but also to ensure we are on the path to happiness.

Posted on 05-13-14

Add your Comment here:






Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Submit the word you see below:

Next entry: There is Joy in Risk

Previous entry: Real Conversations, Real Community