At my work, we develop goals on a quarterly cadence, and we do so pretty thoughtfully in order to limit our focus on what the key achievements we’re striving for are.

This works great for me; Rosemary Orchard and I have spoken numerous times of the twelve week year on Nested Folders. What gets me every time, though, are the all-the-other-things: projects that might be needed or wanted, but which aren’t in service of my goals.

I think a lot about how full everyone’s days are. We consume content and ideas in all our waking hours. Anything we do is not just a thing we have chosen, but also a signal of something we have forgone. Silly finite time.

In consideration of all of this, I now have two root folders in my task management system:

  1. Goals
  2. Distractions

Obviously, goals contains the (small) number of projects and their associated tasks that map back to my goals. Everything else goes in Distractions.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t work on projects or skip taking action on tasks inside the Distractions folder. I’d love to, but that isn’t practical.

What it does mean, though, is that I am reminded at every turn that a step towards project in Distractions is a step away from outcomes in Goals.

Choices have consequences, and I need to make sure I remember that. It might seem harsh to call critical things distractions, but left unchecked, the urgent and the critical will eat my goals for lunch.

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