In the field of analytics, the great Avinash Kaushik has said “data in aggregate is crap.” Why did he say this? Because when you aggregate numbers, things become blurry. To say your website got a million visits last month might mean something to you, but breaking it down into how that is spread out among channels and sources better allows you to see what’s truly going on. Take the simple difference between these for example…
This same principle of segmentation applies to day-to-day productivity as well. How a person organizes their workflow management makes a huge difference in their ability to both have a big-picture overview of everything that’s on the horizon, as well as focus on what should be done at any given moment.
Avoid continuous scanning and sorting
Without segmenting your tasks and workflow, you’ll find yourself continuously scanning and sorting your list of 100 things to do to make sure you’re not missing anything and you’re prioritizing correctly. This puts undue focus and stress on you that doesn’t need to be there.
Here’s how David Allen puts it in his book Getting Things Done…
It takes more energy than most people realize to unhook out of one set of behaviors and get into another kind of rhythm and toolset. Most undermining of the effectiveness of many workflow systems I see is the fact that all the stuff of one type is kept in one list, even though different kinds of actions may be required on each one.
If our stuff loses its edges and begins to blend, much of the value of organizing will be lost. If you neglect this categorization, and allow things of different meanings into the same visual or mental grouping, you will tend to go psychologically numb to the contents.
Basically, he’s saying we can’t keep too much stuff in one place. We need a way of separating or filtering like things from like things so that we can focus on a reasonable amount of items at one time when making decisions about what to do with our time, money, energy and attention.