Originally published on 2 April 2007.
One of the things brought forth in Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (aff) is that one should know the Whys for the following reasons:
- If defines success
- It creates decision-making criteria
- It aligns resources
- It motivates
- It clarifies focus
- It expands options
I believe that if I do not know the WHY of what I am doing, I usually end up stumbling around and not getting things done very effectively. A recent example:
This past Thursday I decided it was time to re-do my hard drive. It had been on my someday list, then moved up to my project list. So I decided to tackle it, even though I knew that it wasn’t the most important thing on my list to do, and it would take substantial time.
I dutifully made a backup image. Thank goodness for Norton Ghost 9.0 – Disk Imaging Solution (aff). Even though it is expensive, it is easy to use, and has saved me on more than one occasion. So I knew after making the image I could always get to my files. Next I restored an image I had set up after I purchased the machine, with my base software. Problem was, this image was done in 2005, and there have been 193 MB of Microsoft updates alone since then. Several hours later, I started updating my other software, and then to top off a frustrating evening, I mis-clicked on the registry cleaner. And the computer started doing some really weird stuff.
I went to sleep grumbling about the lost time on this project, knowing I wouldn’t get back to my writing on time, and it came to me…”WHY?”
I had never defined the WHY of this project. The reason I wanted to do this was I wanted to get rid of one version of my programming suite, and rid myself of Norton Internet Suite, which bogs my machine down unnecessarily. Did I need to redo the hard drive for that? No. The only reason to redo a hard drive, in my opinion, is to clean it up and get rid of large chunks of software. It’s a painful process, and not something I recommend to anyone. And here I was doing it to myself because I hadn’t thought through what I wanted to accomplish.
I am beginning to realize that defining the WHY is as important as defining the next action I need to take to move something forward. For if I do not know where I am going, how can I know which direction to take that first step?
So how can this save time? By cutting down on unnecessary work toward something that isn’t in line with what we intend with a project.