The Power Tasking Pentagon
The Power Tasking Pentagon
In this high paced culture that we live in we often feel like we have more that we would like to get done, than hours in the day would permit. We are often faced with making choices between which activities or task we will be focusing on that day. Sometimes many of us just wish to engage in more leisure based activities as well. These more relaxing pursuits can be just as important as the other projects on our list, for without at least some relaxation, it would be impossible to lower our levels of stress. Besides that, having fun is what life is supposed to be about anyway. It would be a shame for a weekend to go by without a person having at least some fun, doing an activity that they enjoy.
There are many myths about multi-tasking out there, used by armchair psychologists. There are many people who are proud of their multi-tasking skills and claim that they could not get any of their work done if they were to just focus on one thing at a time.
However studies have shown that multi-tasking in fact actually slows a person’s production rate. For instance, say a person was working on three tasks at once. They may feel like they are getting more done, but in almost every case the three tasks would have been accomplished faster if the person had started on one job, worked on it until it was finished then started on the next.
Still where does that leave the person that has too much to do on a Sunday afternoon and does not know where to start? Often a person will end up finding his or herself in a situation similar to the scenarios outlined below. Which of these two types of people do you find yourself more closely identifying with?
Two Activity Outlooks:
There are two extreme methods of accomplishing one’s work. These examples below represent both ends of the bell-curve with most people obviously falling somewhere in-between.
The two types that will be outlined here are called the Accomplisher and the Indulger. Do not let these terms mislead you, for it our scenario the Indulger my end up accomplishing more and the Accomplisher might indulge in many things along the way.
The Accomplisher is a firm believer in ‘the work first play later’ philosophy. Their whole life is one big contingency statement where they promise to have fun later after they take care of this and this and this and this and maybe that. It might seem like a good idea and probably helped them get their homework done when they were a kid, but as adults being the Accomplisher often has its drawbacks.
One of the most obvious drawbacks is the fact that, as adults most people have more busy work to do then they could ever hope to finish in any given day. So if someone sets themselves up to be able to relax and have fun after their work is over, they might end up going through life without doing the things that they actually enjoy.
Another common setback is that when several tasks have finally been completed, the person might not have the energy or motivation to get out there and do something that they actually have fun with. Activities such as hiking, bowling, swimming, or even going to the movies are pushed aside. Also due to exhaustion the individual that has been working so hard all day, just ends up giving themselves the luke warm pleasure of vegging out in front of the television.
The indulger starts their day in the opposite fashion. Instead of hopping into their more mundane workload, they begin their day with an activity that they enjoy. Now for many Indulgers this does not have to be some lazy pursuit like watching television or taking a two-hour bath, it could be something very rigorous or difficult, the key thing to remember however is that is a task that they enjoy. It is quite possible that while the Accomplisher is balancing his checkbook in air-conditioned comfort, the Indulgers is ridding her mountain bike along a twenty-mile trail.
Any parent knows what these are. We use them with our children. “After you finish cleaning your room, we will go to the movies.” We use them for our children, but how often do we realize that we can and do use them for ourselves? “I’ll get myself another soda after I finish making my phone calls.” “I’ll watch that movie I rented after I finish cleaning the kitchen.” Contingency Statements are great because the not only insure that you are getting the things done that you need to do, but they also make sure that you are having a little fun and enjoying yourself along the way as well.
The Power Tasking Pentagon
The Power Tasking Pentagon or PTP is a tool to help an individual that has a few hours of time to get things done in a way that is both pleasing and productive. It sets up a serious of Contingency Statements for the individual, where they are continually getting things done, but also insuring that they are not only having fun, but also accomplishing the type of goals that really matter to them. Hey we all need to do our dishes, but finishing our novel is really our life’s passion.
Daily Tasks Unique Task
Main Enjoyable Project
Power Tasking Pentagon Categories:
- Daily Tasks
- Unique Task
- House/Yard Work
- Power Lounge Activity
- Main Enjoyable Project
This order or even the categories are not necessarily locked in stone. The Accomplisher, might feel better starting their PTP in the order used above, while the Indulger, might prefer to flip the whole think upside-down and start with #5. It does not really matter. One would not even have to do the tasks in any order, but one should if you are attempting to use the PTP as a tool attempt to do each of the five tasks at least some, before doubling up on any one particular objective.
In order to do a PTP right, one must first decide which tasks you are going to fit into the Pentagon for that day. This can often be a simple process that requires less then a minute to complete, others times it might be more difficult, especially when one has just started to use the process. The trick is not to get to serious about it. The PTP is only a tool. If you do not do it perfectly no one will know or care except you. If you pick a task that ends up not fitting well for that day, then just change it. If you finish one of the tasks, then good for you. That just means you have shrunk your pentagon into a square and now can spend more time on your remaining tasks.
Defining the PTP Categories:
1. Daily Tasks:
Daily tasks are easy to confuse with House/Yard Work or even Unique tasks, there is a difference however. Daily Tasks are things that must be done daily or perhaps weekly. These tasks would include such things as:
- Washing dishes
- Making a meal(s)
- Watering plants/lawn
- Feeding animals
- Changing the kitty litter box.
- Empting the trash
- Helping children with homework
- Taking care of younger children’s needs
When one is choosing their tasks for this PTP this category the specific task can often be skipped in respects to which chore is being decided upon. This is due to the fact that most of the Daily Tasks are shorter jobs and one can be done during each PTP rotation. Secondly their need or lack thereof is often so obvious that time does not need to be wasted discussing them.
For example if I had my PTP all planned out. I might wash the dishes during my first rotation. Then maybe clean out the kitty litter and feed my cats during the second rotation. My laundry is done and it is winter so I have no plants to worry about. So during the next rotation I empty the trash and find that I am done with that PTP category for the day and I have just made my PTP shape smaller.
2. Unique Task:
The UT is an activity that could be the most exciting thing in the world or a project that you have been dreading for mouths. It is generally considered something that one might only have to do once, or at least only once in a while. You could enjoy or hate it, but it needs to be done. UT often involve building something, cleaning out an odd area or it could even be going to a different area. Whatever it may be it usually might take awhile. If it is a project with several different steps, a person could do one of these steps during each rotation. If one finished their UT then they could either choose to tighten up their PTP by dropping a corner or they could start on a new UT.
Examples of Unique Tasks could include:
- Making a bookcase.
- Buying plants for the yard
- Cleaning out a closet
- Painting a room
- Mailing out your Christmas cards
- Planning an event
- Rearranging a room
- Cleaning out a fish tank
- Making a photo album
3. House/Yard Work
This is one category that does not need a lot of explanation and always seems to have more things that needs to be done then there is time in the day to do it. This is where a lot of people get hung up staying busy and do not get past this area into the more meaningful areas of life. Conversely. If this area is ignored, a person ends up living in a disorganized mess that and that can actually inhibit the creative process. It is here that the PTP really comes to its own and if used efficiently it can leave you freshly written screenplay lying on a sparkling counter top.
One small note, many of these tasks if looked at individually can be short tasks and one could be done during each PTP rotation.
Examples might not be necessary, but here goes.
- Cleaning the living room
- Weeding a garden
- Mowing the lawn
- Chopping wood
- Cleaning just about anything
- Doing laundry
4. Power Lounge Activity
Here is the fun stuff, well even if it is not active fun it is at least relaxing. With all of these things going on, it would be easy to become overloaded and wear yourself out. Part of having an enjoyable and fulfilling life is being able to give yourself some down time too. Studies have indicated that the best way to relieve stress is to have periods of relaxation. Stress and relaxation are opposite sides of the same coin. You need to relax to fight off your stress and if you are under a lot of stress your need for relaxation increases.
There are different kinds or levels of relaxation though. The more powerful the relaxation the better your stress will be relieved. Think on something as basic as watching television. What is going to be more pleasurable for you, just walking in flopping down on the sofa and beginning to channel surf or renting a new movies, making popcorn and snuggling under a warm blanket with a friend or family?
Are relaxation is what we make of it. We should not be stressing out over how we relax, but we should also realize that different techniques will yield different results. Say Matt loves to read and has always told everyone that it is one of his favorite ways to relax. Now suppose Matt had a really traumatic day at work.Readingwill help him throw off some of that stressful residue, but is he going to be reducing his stress at the same levels if he is reading his book riding home on the subway or if he reads the same book while taking a hot bath?
This is where Power Lounging comes in. People need to be able to relax like they mean it and lounge like professionals. Power Lounging is when you relax like it is any activity that should be planned for. It is a release, but a planned and powerful release. This is not to say that we have to plot how we are going to be finishing our book later, but we might want to make sure we have a comfortable chair, a cool drink, and a place to kick up my legs while you are doing so. The more you can truly relax the great the benefits will be whether it is resting your body after a bit of yard work or relaxing after a hard day’s work, relaxing needs to be an important part of every person’s life and we should make sure it is being done right.
5. Main Enjoyable Project
In some respects this is the section of the PTP where a person has the most flexibility. This is where one should be focusing on accomplishing their dreams hopes and aspirations. What is it you would really like to be accomplishing? What have you always dreamed of doing with your life? When you close your eyes and think about the activities that you really want to be doing what might it be?
This is where the activity you are working on is different that your brother, co-worker, or neighbor. Think about it. Everyone has to wash the dishes and do their laundry. Once in a while we all clean out our storage room. Who does not need to relax once in a while and we all have small unique jobs that we do around the house to make our lives a little bit better. But not everyone is an artist, or a writer, or is trying to get his or her own business off the ground.
When all is said and done all of the other sections of the PTP are designed so you can reach this spot. This is what we want to be working on, what really should be working on. When we work hard enough to eliminate the other sides of our pentagon, the reason we are doing it is so we will have more time to work on out Main Enjoyable Project. This is why we hurry to clean our house, build our new bookcases, and even relax, so we will have the resources, strength and time to do what we really want to do, what we were meant to do.
This section is what life is all about. It is following our gifts and using our strengths to make the accomplishments we have always dreamed we were capable of doing. So let us go out there and get started!
Examples of Main Enjoyable Projects:
- Any kind of art
- Starting our own business
- Anything creative
- Raising animals
- Designing a product
- Building a computer program
- Anything else that stirs your personal passions