Your job is not your job…
There is a fundamental difference between the kind of job you might have had in the pre-digital age and the kind of job you have now as a knowledge worker. In the industrial age, your job was to perform a function – think packing boxes in a factory or serving drinks behind a bar. Your job as a knowledge worker is to deliver the right outcomes and information in much the same way as someone behind a bar needs to deliver a good beer. But that’s not really your job. That’s not the bit they pay you for.
What you’re paid to do is work out what the job is, how it should look, how to go about it, and so on. What you’re paid to do is take information from other people’s emails and priorities, react to what’s happening in the wider world, apply professional expertise and define the work. What you’re really paid for is the thinking process that goes on. After all, anyone could type and send that final email signing it all off if they were told exactly what to say!
How strong is your CORD?
My book, How to be a Productivity Ninja, uses the CORD Productivity Model, which we developed through my company, Think Productive, and have taught to thousands of people in organizations around the world over the last few years. It’s an illustration of ‘information workflow’: the journey that you go on with any piece of information, from receiving it to its final conversion into something that’s either done or not done.
There are four stages to this process: Capture and Collect, Organize, Review and Do. To improve your productivity, you must focus on the habits that support each of these four stages. Think of it like a chain – one weak link will affect its overall strength. Your productivity is only as good as the weakest of these four crucial elements.
Using CORD to overcome ‘information overload’
Recognizing these four distinct phases of knowledge work can be a great help when we’re faced with the feeling of 33 ‘information overload’. Using CORD, you can work out where the ‘blockage’ in your workflow is and which element of the CORD process you have neglected.
Is it down to too much information coming in? Is it too much information remaining undefined and disorganized, with no sense of the potential meaning or outcome? Is it because you need to take a step back and revisit priorities and see the bigger picture? Or is it that the time for thinking is over and you need to knuckle down and clear the decks by simply getting on with delivering on your commitments?
CORD can act as a diagnostic tool to help you put your attention in the right place and become motivated and in control again.