Situational Awareness

I love this term. David Allen has used it to describe the constant input we receive and the ability to react to it. He’s used a reference to pilots, especially fighter pilots who have to react to critical situations in a moment’s notice. Of course, most of what we do everyday is not life or death. For a fighter pilot, it is.

You have to be able to adapt. It’s great to set goals each day and engage your task/next action list, however, if new input comes in that needs to be a priority, you have to change focus. I’ve experienced this today. I have my daily goals lined up. I’m engaging with my next action list, and bam, I get off a couple conference calls and I have some new input that I need to act on right now.

So, what do you do? Well, here’s what I do. I have a whiteboard in my office. You can do this on a piece of scratch paper, or anywhere you can get your thoughts out. I simply grab what has my attention. I make a list (takes me a minute), then I think about what I’m trying to accomplish (the desired outcome). Then right next to it, I write down the next action.

Right now, I have 9 items I thought of, 3 of which are critical to do right now…so, I stop what I’m doing and/or what I had planned and engage with those 3 actions.

Be prepared, because the unexpected will happen a lot. As I stated above, you have to be able to adapt. Life will bring plenty of these experiences. It’s how fast and in control you can switch focus that will bring you the best results.

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