The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

The wish list

Planning one’s day can happen by listing all the tasks one has to attend to.

Such a list probably feels like being determined by external forces. The tasks on the list are those one feels obliged to deal with. They might also be the tasks accepted a long time ago and suddenly appearing on the list with a due deadline.

Planning the day may also be a result of blocking out time for all the things one desires to attend to.

All the items on the list will be one’s that are interesting, feel useful, or satisfy our desire to do great work in some manner. There is a high probability that one’s interest in all of these tasks allows for an impression that they’ll all can be handled faster than they end up taking. These lists are best compared with wish lists.

All the items on these lists will be there because they are considered to be important. Either to one’s desire to do work that matters or to the desire to be seen as someone who reliably does one’s work.

As plans rarely work out as planned, the end of the day rarely sees a finished task list. Dealing with the frustration makes both metrics inconvenient. With a focus on others, it is hard to serve one’s own sense of satisfaction while thinking of those who are still waiting. In the other case, where the focus remains on the self, that external recognition hoped for will feel like being reduced by all the unfinished tasks.

This description is oversimplified. That’s on purpose. It’s worth understanding the pattern.

What both lists have in common is a plan that needs to be achieved. It is based on seduction with the outcome of the plan and the tasks.

The deeper hope is that by being disciplined enough, one’s behavior will change. It’s a brute force approach.

Sticking to the given plan lacks the understanding of the process that unfolds during the day. It misses seeing how the work that can be done next fits into the larger context of one’s work.

It’s ok to adapt a plan. However, when doing so, it helps to look at the rest of the next tasks and ask oneself how they make sense.

It’s a discipline that builds a practice.


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