Charlie’s five and loves dinosaurs.
The T-Rex is his favourite, but he’s pretty good with the long neck of the diplodocus, the lengthy wings of a tetradactyl, and the broad shoulders and shiny trio of horns of a good old triceratops.
Yep, Charlie loves dinosaurs.
And as a result of his interest, it has of course spiked mine.
With access to web sites, books, movies, museums, re-creations, “documentaries”, and actual fossils on a scale similar to the massive Argentinosaurus (whom I told was the biggest dinosaur, estimated at about 100 tons and 40m long) you can easily be enveloped by their fascinating history and stepping-stone relationship to ours.
But despite their phenomenal physical scale one can still imagine them in some kind of familiar context; it was a big a small plane, as massive as two double decker buses, as heavy as ten elephants. These references make their existence conceivable.
This perspective becomes significantly more challenging however when you look at their place on an historical timeline.
Try and consider this. The stone age was approximately 2 million years ago, our first human ancestor about five to seven million, and the T-Rex (the dinosaur not the English rock band from the 1970’s) last roared over 65 million years ago.
When you live a life that is so often structured around hours and days, sometime months and years, how do you even start to comprehend something that ceased to exist 65 million years ago after living, in some form, for 200 million years?
The time framework by which we manage and measure our existence doesn’t even register on that ruler.
But this is my point.
If our whole existence is but a blip, what does it say about the mountain of work piled up on your desk, the people knocking on your door to come in, and constant flow of meeting reminders that now appear in gaggles rather than singular events.
Perspective is a wonderful thing for bringing the struggles of work back into balance. And with more balance comes less stress and in turn more productivity.
Now I’m not suggesting we simply write off the human race as interesting but historically irrelevant, but I am suggesting we utilise the principle of perspective to manage our workload. For example try these when assessing your workload:
Use “criticality perspective” and spend time each day assessing the relative importance of everything on your plate. Ensure you don’t provide too much or too little weight to each item.
Use “deadline perspective” to assess what must be completed in the next few hours or by the end of the day irrespective of other considerations
Take “another’s perspective” and use empathy to assess the impact of your work. Sometimes things that feel insignificant to you may be critical to others, or of course, vice versa
Use “benefit perspective” and determine what of your work delivers the greatest benefit to you and your organisation. Focus on that.
Use “effort perspective”. If everything is critical and urgent, tackling those requiring less effort can help clear your plate.
Use “necessity perspective” to be ruthless in determining if things should be on your plate, your team’s plate, or simply thrown in the bin
Utilising perspective to effectively manage your workload and stress can be a simple and successful tool. Expecting a five-year-old to understand it – well that’s another story altogether.