What’s the difference between these two types? Is it that the first type are better people, who one day will be summoned to a perfectly ordered heaven while the rest of us are condemned to be mired in the hell of our own total disorder for eternity? No, I don’t think so. I think the difference lies in the fact that the perfectly ordered people have learned the difference between three different types of urgency:
1) stuff that needs to be done straightaway
2) stuff that has a deadline sometime in the future
3) stuff that needs to be done but doesn’t have a deadline
Orderly people know how to deal with each of these. Disordered people on the other hand only know how deal with the first – the stuff that needs to be dealt with straightaway. Anything that doesn’t need to be done straightaway gets postponed until it does need to be done straightaway! That’s why a disordered person spends their life in a state of constant rush and pressure. Rush and pressure are the only ways they can get anything done. Anything with a deadline gets left until the last moment, and anything without a deadline never gets done at all. That’s why disorder is so fatal to your effectiveness, because the really important initiatives that will take your life, business or job forward rarely have deadlines.
Let’s have a look at how the ordered person deals with these three. We might then be able to imitate them and hopefully become models of order and effectiveness ourselves. What’s their secret? It is that they deal with each of the three types of urgency in a different way. Let’s see how they deal with each in turn:
Stuff that needs to be done straightaway. They do this straightaway, just like you and I do. The difference is that they have everything else under control, so the interruption causes far less disruption to the rest of their work.
Stuff with a deadline. This is where the ordered people work in a completely different way from you and me. We tend to leave everything to the last minute. They on the other hand use all the time that is available to get a project completed. If they have two weeks to write a report, they will use the full two weeks to research it and write it up properly, instead of winging it in the last two days like the rest of us do!
Stuff without a deadline. Orderly people know how to deal with this too. They will tackle these things one at a time. We disorderly people do it a different way – we either never get around to doing any of them, or we try to do all of them at once. Either way it’s a disaster. The orderly person’s way is to list the things they want to do and then decide what order they are going to do them in. Then they knock them off one at a time. That’s the way to move forward.