Step 5: Engage
The fifth stage is essential for pushing projects and next actions forward. You actually need to decide which task to tackle first and which to postpone for late completion. In his book, David Allen suggests you can take at least three different perspectives on your tasks.
a) The four-criteria model to choose actions in the moment:
Is it possible to complete the items in the current set-up? Are you at work or at home?
Is there enough time available to complete it? In case you have an important call in 15 minutes, you don’t need to start a time-consuming task now.
Do you have enough energy available to complete it? After crunching complex models for several hours, starting a new complex project may not be the best idea.
Which of your tasks would give you the highest pay-off if completed?
b) The threefold-model for identifying your daily work:
For me, it is helpful to clarify what kind of work I am doing.
Doing pre-defined work:
Solving tasks which were previously clarified and scheduled fall in this category. Doing pre-defined work helps you push things forward.
Doing work as it shows up:
It is inevitable to deal with important ad-hoc tasks, which show up during the day but are not directly contributing to the progress of your projects.
Defining your work:
In case you are not working on some scheduled or ad-hoc tasks, you may define what you have at hand during the “clarify” step.
c) The six-level Model for reviewing your own work:
There are different altitudes from which you can view your next actions. The higher the altitude, the more it impacts every decision you make.
Horizon 5: Purpose and Principles
What are your core beliefs and principles? This category tends to drive all decisions in other categories.
Horizon 4: Vision
What is your plan for the next 5 years? What is your long term vision regarding personal, business and financial matters?
Horizon 3: Goals
What are the goals you want to achieve in the next one to two years? These define the areas you want to focus on most.
Horizon 2: Areas of focus and accountabilities
Balancing all your areas of focus and accountabilities towards your family and business partners is important to sustain long term performance.
Horizon 1: Current Projects
The current projects are derived from your areas of focus and are responsible for the majority of the tasks on your “next actions” list.
Ground: Current Actions
This level consists of all the next actions you have to take (e.g. write the sales proposal or feed the data into your financial model) to push the items on higher altitudes forward.
When you are able to be aware of the three perspectives I just mentioned, you just leaped a step forward to being more in control of your “next actions” list.