Brain Food

Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time

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What’s the first thing a nurse does when faced with multiple patients, each with a host of ailments, all needing immediate attention?

That nurse would triage those patients – that is, prioritize them into three categories: those who are likely to live, regardless of care; those who are unlikely to live, regardless of care; and those for whom prompt care may have a positive impact. This simple method allows them to direct resources where they’ll do most good.

But triaging also has another application.

Triage your work for a more manageable day

If you’re getting bogged down by an ever-increasing load of to-dos, emails and meetings, try triaging them.

Which ones must you do? You might decide that onboarding Joe is your number one priority.

Which hurt your productivity? Perhaps this means dropping your 4:00 p.m. meeting.

Which can you drop or delegate? Maybe someone in HR would be better at delivering your upcoming presentation.

With this triage mentality, you’ll be able to take care of the most pressing matters and maintain your productivity.

For more on time and work management – including why micromanaging hurts business – read our blinks to Doing the Right Things Right, by Laura Stack.

Happy Birthday to René Descartes

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A happy would-be 421st birthday to René Descartes!

It’s a ripe old age for a man you’ve undoubtedly heard of, but what was so special about him?

Je ponse, donc je suis

Or, in the English-speaking world, I think, therefore I am. Sound familiar?

The French phrase originally comes from Descartes’s philosophical text Discourse on the Method, but is also referred to in his later works. But what was Descartes talking about?

To give you a Minute-friendly gist of his argument, it went something like this:

How do we know what really exists? Surely from our senses. But our senses can be deceived (our dreams, for instance, can feel alarmingly real), rendering them unable to prove what exists. So our mind must be the only thing that is real, since, regardless of what our senses tell us, we can always think about what we sense and then challenge it. The fact that we’re thinking beings is certain. Thus: we think, therefore we are.

Descartes’s notion gained such traction that it became a cornerstone of Western philosophy. And I think, therefore I am is still referred to today, 380 years after he first published the thought.

For more on René Descartes, including how he argued for the existence of God, read our blinks to his Meditations on First Philosophy.