I am a huge fan of Michael Hyatt. When he creates content, I am usually one of the first to get my hands on it.
He has an excellent approach to productivity that I want to share with you.
He calls it "triaging your calendar."
What Is the Triage Approach to Productivity
"Triage" is a battlefield term.
During battle, field medics have to decide where they spend their limited resources and which wounded soldiers they should tend to and in what order.
The sad reality of war is that more men are generally injured than can be attended to before they die.
To minimize the damage, prioritizing who receives care first (or at all) is critical.
Here is the imagery that puts this process into perspective.
You’re on a battlefield after a particularly gruesome fight. You are the head field medic and have limited resources to try and save many lives.
Laying in the field wounded you have 3 types of patients.
- Wounded Group #1 Those who will die no matter what you do.
- Wounded Group #2 Those who will live if you treat them, but die if you don’t.
- Wounded Group #3 Those who will live whether you treat them or not.
There is no way you can treat all of them and just a fraction of any of the 3 groups mentioned would take all of your time and resources.
Now, understanding that, which group do you treat?
- Do you treat whichever you get to first?
- Do you treat the ones you like best?
- Do you treat the ones in the most pain?
Simple logic says you should treat the ones who need your treatment to survive.
You should spend your time on group 2.
They rely on you to live.
Group 1 is screwed. As painful as it is to watch them as they die, tending to them instead of others we could save will lead to the death of BOTH.
Group 3 will be inconvenienced and perhaps endure more pain than if we helped them instead of those who needed us more, but they will live.
While this is an extreme case of the importance of setting priorities, the same approach should be applied when setting our own daily priorities.
So What Does This Mean for You?
If you read this far, I think it’s safe to assume you can grasp the logic here fairly easily.
You know group 2 needs all of your focus to maximize the amount of good you can do.
The problem is identifying the tasks that are hopeless, needing help or that don’t need our help.
How Do You Know Which Are Which?
This comes down to mindfulness.
You must understand what is going on in your life, what you can control and what you cannot.
A Step Further
Remember how I said you could only help a fraction of any three of the groups?
You have to make life or death decisions for the things you can control.
With groups 1 and 3, you don’t control the outcome, with group 2, some will die if you don’t take action.
Which do you let die?
That is very heavy, so let’s start with, “how can you minimize the number that die.”
With each person, you can do the life saving processes yourself, or instruct another medic to do so.
Note: You are in charge of the field medics in this situation
Which Do You Do Vs. Which Do You Delegate
You have one goal, to save the most lives possible.
So, you should focus on what you do most effectively (relative to your peers) and delegate out the rest.
You can’t treat all of the #2 soldiers, so you must treat as many as possible. Just as we can’t handle every task we can affect, but we can focus on accomplishing the most good possible.
Takeaways and How You Can Maximize Effectiveness in Your Less Dramatic Life
Know the value of tasks, projects, events etc. everything you do has a value.
If you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to another
Just be sure that, like the medics in the battlefield, you say yes to the things that you can affect and that need your attention.
I recommend you follow Michael Hyatt and listen to his podcast on iTunes.
What do you think? Am I comparing apples to oranges? Are these not the same? Let me know what you think!