JBB’s Final Thoughts Episode 19: When I’m 80, Part II. Leaving important stuff in our lives to do “some day” isn’t wise. But how does one prioritize all the things we care about with all the things that need to get done? Covey and Graham have something to say about this, that even an unemployed dude can appreciate.
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JBB’s Final Thoughts, episode 19: When I’m 80, Part II.
Joe Bustillos, here. An 80-year-old woman called into Leo Laporte’s Tech Guy radio program and asked him for the best way for her to digitize her collection of VHS tapes she’d been saving over the years. He asked if these were irreplaceable copies of shows or family videos and she said, no, just programs she liked and wanted to continue to watch. He suggested that she might find her shows already available on NetFlix. Actually it’s not even the cost, but the hassle and time needed to rip VHS tapes to some digital format. Basically digitizing VHS tapes without commercial equipment means playing the tapes in realtime while the computer captures and digitizes the video feed. Thus, a single 40-minute tape would probably take over an hour to convert. The woman made it sound like she wanted to digitize dozens if not tens of dozens of shows. Laporte didn’t say this quite so bluntly, but given her age and how long it’d take to digitize the shows, there’s a real good chance that she won’t live long enough to enjoy watching them after they’re all digitized. But she didn’t seem to understand what he was talking about and continued to act like she had all the time in the world, to “some day” enjoy watching her programs.
Many of us have things we want to do, that we say are important to us, but never get around to do them. I have two models: an Apollo capsule with service module and Apollo LEM (Lunar Excursion Module) that I purchased twenty-years but haven’t managed to build or even take out of the box. I love the space program. I have been collecting news articles and saved special issue magazines since I was a kid. I have NASA posters on my walls. But in the last twenty years I haven’t had the time to sit down to glue these little grey plastic parts together. There have always been too many other things to do such that the models seem to be on the permanent “later” list. I’m just like the 80-year old and her dreams of digitizing her TV shows that she’ll eventually watch someday. Even in my current unemployed state, I’m finding it difficult to balance the “Must Do” and the “Want To Do” in my life.
I’ve read Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, several times and the one take away that spoke to me, which was especially true when I was doing tech-trouble-shooting while teaching, was that there will always be more problems than there are hours in the day. Thus, one needs triage the problems. Covey divides the tasks into four quadrants as follows:
- Quadrant 1 are things that are Important and Urgent
- Quadrant 2 are things that are Important but not Urgent
- Quadrant 3 are activities that are Not Important but Urgent
- Quadrant 4 are activities that are Not Important and Not Urgent
Quadrant 1 problems are the “drop everything” problems. Quadrant 2 are more long term, but high on the to-do list. Quadrant 3 would be “as soon as you’re done with what you’re doing… Help!” And Quadrant 4 are “filler” whenever problems. Just recognizing that not all problems are “Oh my god, drop everything!” problems was a great revelation to me.
I once sat in on a presentation by Stedman Graham and my take-away from that was that if something is important to you, it’s on your calendar… on a regular basis. Instead of approaching the things we care about as “some day” we need to be able to point to it and do it. His example, being the busy entrepreneur and speaker, was that if he didn’t put golf on his calendar than it wasn’t going to happen.
So the question is what stuff in my life is important enough to have a place on my calendar versus the “some day” stuff. Right now urgent & important is getting a job. Important but not urgent would be time with Maggie and writing. I’d probably also put all of my creative endeavors like playing music, my photography, videos and blogging in the important but not urgent category. Urgent but not important would be the bills and the daily grind stuff. I generally don’t have time for anything that one would consider to be “filler” in my life… even doing email crosses into the urgent not important/daily grind kind of thing.
This past week, I’ve been doing a lot of scanning of old documents and journals and that might seem to be a Quadrant 4/not urgent/not important kind of thing. But in the process it’s been generating a lot of energy about my writing projects, specifically the more long term projects. So, that seems to be more “not urgent/important” than anything else.
The funniest thing was that as I was writing this post I had the most difficult time prioritizing anything and ended up in email/scanning land for a couple days.
I don’t like lists and am not fond of feeling like I’m a slave to “the plan.” But as a classroom teacher I knew that one planned for change, that nothing got done without a well-defined plan and that a good plan enabled one to change directions when a better opportunity presented itself. The plan wasn’t the end-all but it was the means to get to the end. I guess now that my life has become a huge blank slate I have to fill in the squares myself, include all of the things that I’ve said are important to me, and not let my days fly by stuck in email/filler land.
Thank you for spending this time with me at JBB’s Final Thoughts, please check out my website at joebustillos.com (spell out)… for more of my musings and thoughts. Catch you later, bye-bye