Know What You Want, So you Get Your Prioritise Right

In Uncategorized on 11/10/2009 at 09:46

Ever heard of the expression: “what get measured gets done!”? Well, this document is all about that. Plus I provide information on systems which can be used to measure, track changes (monitor) and enable one to know what got done. But first I will begin with an argument for the need of such system in today’s world more then ever, in order to get anything done (which depends as the expression said on: measurement).

In today’s world knowledge stream towards us weather we happen to invite it or not. But life too has their requests, and actually, we as individuals have our very own requests. We want to know about this, that and those. Why? It can be asked. If you are a student, then certain information will be essential for completing your coursework, for an employee, from a work relating progress, this may lay in their ability to know something and know it well. Therefore, we must note down all of our interests down. By doing that we can monitor our progress on each interest and see what next. Therefore, the measurement, is not just for the sake of having a piece of paper to show around and say to others: “look, this is everything I know, want to know and what steps I need to take in order to know those”, though I must admit picturing myself with such a document sounds very seducing in itself. Just imaging the self-esteem boost that will come from knowing what one’s already know, and the confidence, which comes from tangible outlined direction. That in itself motivates and for all the good reasons to engage in such a closely monitored system. Imagine for yourself, all your ideas, knowledge and interests outlined in a single and well organised document that is under your control.

Perhaps those beneficial feelings, from just picturing such document, may derive from our human love to tangible objects; which makes a lot of sense. Consider the above expression of: ‘what get measured gets done!’, by being able to ‘feel something’, in this case, feeling the knowledge we have and the one we ought to have, is probably the only way in which we can measure it in the familiar way that we measure objects in this world. Measuring can be: length, mass, and height. Thus, collecting our knowledge in an informative system provides us with those commonly measurement dimensions. For example, the mass of information we know and want to know, while enabling us, in a very visual way, to prioritise the importance of each item that we ought to learn (height). Thus, to ‘what get measured gets done!’ should be added the notion of tangibility. As being able to ‘feel’ something is being able to measure it and I will finish this paragraph by saying: ‘make your desires tangible’.

One last point on tangibility; by pouring your thoughts and desires out on and in a document, all of a sudden you’ll be able to see for yourself the thoughts of: “aw I’ll think about that now, then I will forget to think about the other thing that I wanted to consider’, despairing. You will also of course be able to rethink all of your interests, what it is that you know and what it is that you would like to know and by the acquiring order of importance that you should know those, with the ability to literally drag items of interest up and down the hierarchy. In addition, as your mind is now clear, you also make way for new ideas, interests etc, while reducing the energy/stress that involves in attempting to keep everything in the mind, with the knowledge that you may wake up tomorrow forgetting some thoughts and ideas. Matter of fact the author David Allen has written a book which brought him great success by simple arguing the importance of keeping one mind thoughts on a paper and not attempting to keep hold of all our thoughts in our mind, with the constant worry of: “am I going to remember this for tomorrow?”.

A suggestion name for this type of document can be called ‘one’s own laboratory’. Laboratories are the places where things get tested and later exported, or in our case its will be executed. The laboratory should act as the place where you collect all your knowledge and future desired knowledge, while working on refining and retuning them. As a springboard to begin working on and in your laboratory, you can consider the following questions to set you going:

–          ‘what it is actually that I want to know?’,

–          ‘what it is I want to do with my life?’ this question will follow with,

–          ‘what knowledge I need to have or will benefit me on my way their?’,                   another useful question may be,

–          ‘what knowledge can do for me?’.

By considering the above questions, you are setting off to figure out in a tangible way, what it is you want to know, i.e. your interests. By having your interest outlined in a document you can all of sudden be able to prioritise which is the most important and urgent knowledge that you need to acquire. Less important and less urgent knowledge will follow in a hierarchy order. This will give you direction for research and what to focus your research on. By having these directions you will A) be much more motivated to do the research (due to focus and direction) and B) you now know what information you after, and therefore able to remind yourself not to digress, while having the great feeling of ticking off boxes of information that you have learnt. Later with the experiences and ownership of your laboratory, you will know for yourself the system that works best for you, i.e. your questions may change and how you order things or keeping the document organised.

For some, the above questions may be much bigger then attempting to stop your attention span running all over the information that is directed to you. For others, those questions may be the beginning or living life to the full or to how one ought to lead their life. For some others, this document and questions may just act as a reminder to what it is they ought to know, how much they already know and what is the next most vital piece of information they better get, due to time constrained (I think on students and employees wanting to improve their grades or income in particularly).

Note that after the exercise of noting all of one’s interests down, one may soon notice that some, if not many of their interests have shifted and are now no longer of an interest to them. Another interesting manufacture of that will be that your stressing out levels will drop dramatically. As now that you can see in a very visual system your interests’, you can re-arrange them in their appropriate way of importance and thus many items of interests will moves down the prioritising ladder and suddenly, you will discover that you have time on your hand to deal with the most important items. This phenomenon is also known in French as effectiveness. So by being able to see (and very clearly) for yourself where you stand, how much you know, how much you don’t know, what will be best to study next when you next have time on your hands, will give you a great feeling of control and of being on top of things and your life.

The next step after configuring and noting all of your interests and their order of importance would be to break them down into manageable bits, so you can pick and chose a bit to remember while easily being able to tick off bits that are learnt. By implication you will be on top of your things as the saying goes (‘what get measured, get done!’), as you will always be able to pick, with accordance to your day interest and necessity, and get own with your progress; whilst being able to see what you’ve been learning at the past (perhaps the addition of time and dates next to the ticking box will be useful for track of learning).

Now, remember I said that you will have one single nice document, called: ‘laboratory’, that you you’ll be able to go around with and so your friends all you know and want to know and what’s the next step? Well, I lied. You will need many of those single documents in your one laboratory. Now let me explain why.

The laboratory is your mind on paper. Now every mind in the world has enormous information, ideas, random thoughts (which can turn into ideas) and desires (in our interests future knowledge acquisition desires). So, you will need to have a document, in that folder called: ‘laboratory’, called ‘questions I ask and want answer for’, now those questions as was discussed above can be in the lines of: ‘what knowledge can benefit me and in what way?’. I can think of a students studying, for instance, psychology, yet only in his first year, asking that question. In that document he/she may come to the conclusion (after hovering over their course handbook) that knowing the history of psychology will help them do better in all their coursework. Their next step will be to figure out how much of the history of psychology they know. While doing that they will have more focusing questions, those questions are the physical like bits that can get measured. For example, they may remember from one of their earlier lectures about the professor talking on: ‘the Principles of Psychology by William James’. The next step for them will be to set a question, if this is indeed a part of the history of psychology which they believe will benefit their future coursework, in lines of: ‘what is the main theme that William James discuss in The Principles of Psychology?’. By having that questions, and now we are reaching to why we ought to have a separate document, the student will be able to figure out how much he remembers form the earlier lecture on William James ideas, while also being automatically motivated to pick up the book: ‘The Principles of Psychology’ in order to gather the information of his interest. Now all of this should be done in a separate document, though still tucked under the ‘laboratory’ folder, so can be easily found, while having a separate place dedicate to that question.

Another trick, though not fully configured by myself and here is where I would like help if any of you aware of the following system. A well organised, which for me is a laboratory where information and tracking of progression can be located swiftly, will be in the ability to tag documents. This is just like in, for example, Google Mail and Word Press, where documents are being given ‘labels or tags’ so in future, (in my case) writings about science, where one document may be on the scientific method, another on philosophy of science (i.e. what science can tell us about the true nature of the world if at all), another document on psychology and so forth. Though all are not directly related, they still touch upon science and fall under the umbrella of science, thus, by being able to tag all of those different documents, which conventionally will be located under their own folders, for example the psychology documents will be located under psychology, but by the trick of tagging any relating articles will appear, regardless of location of storage. I therefore call all of you that have knowledge in this area of tagging and labelling to liaise up with me and help me find such system on the various operating systems, especially for Microsoft Office and Open Office documents.

Ready to go? Well done, after reading this lengthy article you should by now have enough knowledge and motivation to open a laboratory where all your information, future knowledge and interests can be stored and generated. I myself decided when I first opened my laboratory, to brain storm using mind mapping, as the visual aspect of mind mapping helped me reveal natural links and orders with regards to how best I should approach my interests.

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