Yesterday I tried to pay attention to what I was doing. Using the Urgent/Important grid, I tried to filter my activities through it such that I was making the best use of my time, doing both urgent things as well as important things.
But not everybody sees things the same way.
What I found was that people - via voice or person or e-mail - kept showing up with their issues. And all of their issues are important, things that must (in their world) be dealt with right now.
I had never seen it that way before - oh certainly, I have encouraged people to come ask questions and want to be a resource. But maybe for the first time, what I found is that people's view of important and my view of my time are at odds.
The reality is this: people come because they want their problem solved. But sometimes (I am not sure how often at this point) it is more of a reaction by others to not have to do the hard work, to bring the issue to your attention in hopes that you will solve it. Or, perhaps more disappointingly, they will bring the problem to you with the solution in mind but not reveal what their solution is, hoping that you will either confirm it or suggest a better one.
The reality is that most people have far better ideas than they think and often know what they should do. Where it breaks down is that they seem to lack the self confidence to express these ideas - instead, they hope that someone will confirm the idea independently.
I know that these are slightly different problems. I also know that both of them are destroying my life.
It explains why I feel drained when I leave the work every day - I spend a great deal of time applying to others to help them, always draining the bank account and seldom refilling it. I also leave with few of the things I need to get accomplished being done; I am often trying to help others do their jobs.
What I am going to do about this? Not sure, really. I almost lost it yesterday on someone, which is also not a long term plan for success. But neither can I continue to relapse into always doing things for others (any others - not just reports and peers but managers as well).
The way is there before me. I just have to make sense of it.