Are you a diver or a wader?

Photo courtesy of Dirk Hofmann (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Dirk Hofmann (Creative Commons)

You’ve got a list of things to do a mile long. Your phone is lit up with voice mails, your physical inbox is overflowing as well as your email inbox, notes are on your desk, and everywhere notifications can come in – they have. There are stacks of work covering your desk, and you’ve got helpers waiting on instructions.

Where on earth do you begin?

Dive in – that’s what I usually do. And when I dive in without a plan, just trying to swat as many incoming alerts as possible, I end up just making a mess of everything. That’s when I go off in the wrong direction and have to backtrack, or tell people one way to do it only to confuse them later by having to show them a different way.

I make mistakes when I dive in.

Wading in is always a better plan.

Instead of being reactive, it works better if I survey the situation fully, and then decide my actions.

You can see the full scope of the work you have to do and prioritize before starting anything – that way you don’t waste time, spin your wheels or get as frustrated.

It makes much more sense to go slowly rather than to blindly start answering emails or voice mails. Get a clear picture of all the information and then make progress.

Even with a new project, the wading method makes sense. Brainstorm the project from beginning to end, develop a clear picture of what “finished” looks like, then create milestones to hit in order to reach your target completion date. If you build in checkpoints, then you won’t have to change direction as much because you will know you are on track – and even if you do have to change, it won’t be as drastic as if you dove in and headed the wrong direction.

How would you benefit by wading in rather than diving in to your next project?