I couldn’t agree more. I think we spend too much time coaching employees how to do a job, and not enough on how to work. College doesn’t teach that. In a lot of ways, it impedes one’s abilty to manage real world work. Everything is compartmentalized, and relatively short in duration (3–5 classes at a time, with a defined start, middle, and end). Deadlines are clear, and concrete.
The world of work is quite the opposite in for many of us. Deadlines are often targets, projects overlap, and there’s not always a right or wrong answer. I think people tend to fall into the busy trap — doing what comes at them chronologically in an attempt to feel productive, and look back at 2–3 years of work wondering what the point of any of it was. I think this is contributing to the 2–3 year window you mentioned.
We gravitate to the concrete and urgent in an effort to feel productive, and miss the chance to step back, align ourselves with our larger goals, improve our skills, find our values, etc.
I’m guilty of it.
My strategy of late has been to use my productivity system a bit more intentionally. I’m only assigning a date when that date is absolute. If it can be easily deferred, it doesn’t deserve a date (the exception being future “tickler” items). This limits the firehouse of “today tasks” quite a bit. Once they are out of the way, it forces me to look at a long list of items, and think beyond “what’s next” to “what should be next”, or, “what do I want to be next?”
It’s got me feeling more in control of both the urgent and the important.
It’s not a novel idea, to be sure. But it’s where I’m standing on the path of figuring out how to work.
You’re article has me thinking that there might be a strong correlation between employee turnover and how we work. I might just add that to my list to think about some more (@coffeeshop @writing @culturegoal @coachinggoal — no date).