Thursday, September 1, 2011

One of Max's lessons is prioritization, and how easy it is to be distracted from top priority.

Max cries for a lot of reasons. He is hungry so he cries. He is cold so he cries. He is hot so he cries. He has a messy diaper, he is bored, he is overstimulated, he is tired, he has hiccups, he dropped something, he's meeting someone for the first time, he is meeting someone for the tenth time but forgot their name. There are many reasons for him to cry.

His top two reasons to cry are that he is hungry and that he is tired. We can anticipate both but there seem to be more signs that he's about to be tired, so we can avoid the tired crying most of the time. He'll rub his eyes, get quiet, or try to lie down, at which point we can move him to the crib and let him fall asleep. If he starts crying from tiredness, it becomes more difficult, but that's another story.

When he's getting hungry, he can turn from happy to crabby in the span of a minute. That's tough to manage. Once he's hungry it's our top priority to feed him. To give him a bottle, we first need to warm it up, put a nipple on the bottle, get a burping cloth, etc. At this point, top priority is getting the bottle ready. If Max is hungry, he's fussy and usually crying. There's only so much we can do to sooth him without feeding him.

On the other hand, we don't like Max to cry. Not that this is Max's fault, but it is very judgmental crying. It's very easy to get distracted from bottle preparation, for example by a desire to hold Max, to bounce Max, to tickle Max, to do anything to get him to stop crying. It's easy to forget top priority is getting that bottle ready.

Once the bottle is ready, Max goes to town. He's a great eater. He calms down and he once again becomes playful. We know this will happen. We've seen it before. And that's why food preparation is priority one.

At work I know my priorities. Deadlines, strategic objectives, and proposal work is all part of the work I need to do. When someone gets upset, sometimes that changes what I work on even though my priorities haven't really changed. Maybe with Max's lesson I'll reconsider shifting my effort just because someone is crying. After all, when the true priorities are complete, everyone will calm down and want to play.