There are two main ways to put in place an approach for staying on top of things. First, you can start with the “runway” level — all the actions and stuff that lies right before you. Second, you can start at the top levels of mission, values, and goals.
The difficulty with the top down approach is that all of the things at the runway can easily keep bugging you and make it hard for you to see at that level.
But starting at the bottom is worse. If you tell yourself that getting all of your runway actions in order will allow you to work on up to the level of roles, goals, values, and mission, you’ll never make it.
It’s like a few months ago when I was jogging through a field of grasshoppers. When I went faster, there were just more grasshoppers to jump out.
That’s what happens if you focus on the runway level of actions and the stuff you need to process and try to work on up from there. The runway-level stuff will just multiply, and you’ll never rise much above it.
The best solution is to take a both/and approach. You have to deal with the stuff right before you, of course, and that will in turn provide good illumination on the nature of your roles and goals. But if you start there, don’t stay there too long. Go up to the higher levels and work down so that you will have your priorities defined, which will enable you to cut out a bunch of that stuff that’s been cluttering the runway anyway.