1. Independence is declared and, in time, a country’s Constitution is written. A chap known as Ben Franklin is involved in that effort, and is a statesman, Ambassador, inventor, philosopher and many other things. He did all this at a time when life was slow and easy, because we had no electricity and no internet. So he had plenty of time, didn’t he?
  2. A war is in swing. Millions of men are recruited, equipped, trained, transported, supported, treated, and repatriated in 5 years flat. Urgency dictated a response, but production lines were in their infancy. Nevertheless, things got done.
  3. An agreement must be reached between one country and another on trade. The estimated time it will take is TEN YEARS. WITH internet, WITH automation, WITH easy and efficient transportation and WITH e-communication.

What the hell is going on?

I think David Allen hit the nail on the head in his book, “Making It All Happen”, a deeper explanation of his Getting Things Done philosophy. He wrote, “What is it new (…..) that is causing so much stress? My answer is pretty simple – nothing’s new except how frequently everything is new.”

In other words, or to suit my article, the problem is that unlike Ben, who could spend all day studying and preparing for the one thing he had to do that week, and unlike WWII soldiers who had one focus – staying alive while taking ground – we all now feel as though we have to do everything. What’s more, we have to do it NOW.

The FranklinCovey suite of training has this take on modern living.

  • Because we don’t know what is really important to us, everything seems important.
  • Because everything seems important, we have to do everything.
  • Other people, unfortunately, see us as doing everything, so they expect us to do everything.
  • Doing everything keeps us so busy, we don’t have time to think about what is really important to us.

We therefore do not focus on what is important, because we are busy dealing with everything that crops up, regardless of the need for our input at all. BUT everything being done takes a lot longer than the important being done.

Take BoJo. The press, who live minute to minute just talking about other people’s problems while concealing their own, and with no need to produce anything other than ‘look what he did’ reportage, have said that ‘people’ are criticising Boris for not visiting the flooded population. I have two takes on this.

First – who are the people saying this? I haven’t seen one asked who wasn’t primed with a loaded question, and even those who were so primed didn’t really seem as bothered as the press.

Second, and the politicians have made this point, what do they think he would do when he gets there? Fill up a sandbag? Say ‘there, there’ a lot? Build a dam? None of which are a valuable use of a Prime Minister’s time when he has people to whom such tasks are delegated, and delegated correctly. (Not to mention how the last time he went out, someone shouted at him like it was him who caused the rain.)

Stuff gets done quicker when we focus on what we HAVE to do, not what we COULD do to salve someone else’s perceptions – malignant perceptions, occasionally – of what is needed.

So good on you, Boris – you’re managing time like it ought to be managed.