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#WFH: What Are Your Priorities?

There are a million courses on how to get things done, maybe more. There are many books, videos and other self-help classes available. Most of these are concerned with setting goals, making and managing to-do lists, labeling and categorizing obligations and intentions. Unfortunately, most of these are worthless. Setting priorities and carving them out requires confidence, creativity and courage. There is no right or wrong way and no quick fix for setting and enacting priorities.

This is especially true in the virtual world, where we are more open, more exposed and more vulnerable in many ways. This vulnerability is heightened by the rate of change we are all being exposed to with new technologies. We are all in a new place and working in a brand new way. Anonymity and the veil of perceived privacy also compound this vulnerability. Make no mistake – we are all in this together. Judy Brown, a mobile learning strategic analyst, told a conference at the University of Wisconsin, “We are in the first second, of the first minute, of the first hour, on the first day, of the first year” of online existence (Brown, 2012).

Vulnerability is the feeling of being helpless, exposed and susceptible. When you put on your business suit and went to the office, you had on your business armor. This persona protected and insulated you from the dangers of being you. You became the company man or woman. You could put on another identity and became that tough businessperson, less affective and more competitive. But now that you are working in your pajamas, that business persona might look different. How much it has changed depends on you. Your vulnerability depends on how sensitive you are to events, other people, colleagues and outside forces, and how good you are at setting your own boundaries. It also depends on how much exposure you have to risk and how much support you have from your organization. Sensitivity and exposure determine how potentially vulnerable you are to outside influences, others, family situations and distractions. Your ability to manage these by setting and enacting your priorities will determine to a large extent your ability to thrive in the virtual world. The ability to manage your vulnerability, and adapt, helps you minimize the impact of risk and change. How you interact and share with others in the virtual world often is determined by your involvement with a team or community. Virtual communities, large or small, are places where people share knowledge, build appreciation and find opportunities. They are places to exchange ideas and information, and to seek recognition and support. Like all communities, they have a hierarchy of peer-to-peer, as well as boss/teacher-to-peer interactions and relationships. They are usually structured around common interests, productivity or consumption. Quite often, it is the virtual community that provides the support structure that helps you minimize risk and vulnerability online. Ironically, it is also this virtual community that can cause all of those to increase.

There is nothing more connected than the Internet and nothing moves faster than online. The ability to connect with others and share ideas has accelerated to new proportions. Digitally mediated communities use social software to determine the interactions and activities of the participants. This constantly moving target is difficult to pin down. It is not like a face-to-face workplace. It is different than it was yesterday and it will be different tomorrow than it is right now. In order to enact your priorities, you need to know what they are and then use desire, dedication and discipline to move toward them.

You can’t live life online as a series of random acts or you will be in reaction mode and accomplish very little. Life in the virtual workplace affords you the opportunity to examine your desires, needs and priorities. You cannot change a global interconnected world, but you can choose how you respond to it. You can choose to state your priorities and act on them. You can become conscious of what you desire and when you want it, and focus your attention on that outcome. That is your ability to respond or “respond-ability.” In order to hit a moving target, you want to keep that target in focus. You want to aim at it until you meet your mark. It starts with an awareness of what you are trying to accomplish and then a focusing of your mind and activities on what you truly desire. Scientists used to think that our brains were hardwired and that we had very little control over what we thought and how we felt. Today we know this is not true. We have wonderful psychologists and thought leaders who tell us what we think is very important. What you think about all day long and what you do – those are your priorities.

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