The POODLE System

A poodle with the Little Essentials card

On any particular day, you have to decide what to do now and what to leave for another time. It makes no sense to try to focus in on everything; your attention will be pulled in so many directions that nothing will get done — a situation called “thrashing”.

There are two categories of things to do I’d like to discuss — the Priority Objective Of the Day and the Little Essentials. Put these two acronyms together and you get POODLE.

The Priority Objective Of the Day

The Priority Objective Of the Day is the “big job” you need to do. It is the day of making repairs, the major presentation you have to get ready for, the meeting with your company’s biggest client, or the computer software that needs to be programmed and debugged. It can be a single task (the presentation) or a group of related tasks (repairs). Once you select your Priority Objective, the key is to work on that and not get distracted by other big jobs (they can have their own day).

The Little Essentials

On the other hand, the Little Essentials are those minuscule things that you might not want to do but must be done anyway — everything from taking a shower to filing papers in a cabinet.

Perhaps you’d rather just work on your Priority Objectives — because that’s what’s important and that’s where the job satisfaction is. But the Little Essentials are not going away by themselves.

Management gurus are always talking about delegating your routine tasks. However if you were like me for most of my corporate life, you’re just a leaf on the organizational tree, with no one to delegate to. And some things just can’t be delegated — no one can take your shower for you.

One common pattern is for a group of people (like a family) to designate one person to do all the mundane stuff — so you can go back to doing what you do best. Which works quite well unless you are the person so designated.

No matter what your particular situation, you can’t escape the Little Essentials totally. One workable strategy is to work on your Priority Objective for a while, then take a break and deal with your Little Essentials — ideally, getting a few done before returning to your big job — that way, you retain large blocks of time for your Priority Objective and aren’t interrupted so often.

Tracking your Little Essentials

We all would like to concentrate our efforts on the big, important job; but if you suddenly realize it’s been three months since you’ve last cleaned out the fridge, that’s certainly far too long. The best way to avoid neglecting that which must be done is to track them somewhere.

I have created what I call the Little Essentials card, with tasks going down the left side and dates across the top. At a glance, I can see what has and hasn’t been done lately; that way I can give more attention to whatever is overdue for it.

Would you like a free copy of the Little Essentials card? Just click the link below to register and download the file.

For more tips and tricks about getting organized, check out my upcoming book,
The Theory Of Organizing Everything