The Issue – Drive-By Distractions One of the greatest distractions in the workplace occurs when people pass by our office. We often catch their eye and they come in or they just come in one their own accord. Either way we’re the victim of a drive-by distraction. One option is to close the door. However,[…]
Spaghetti on a plate. That’s what many of our calendars – electronic or paper – look like. All of our appointments and lists of to-dos mixed together in one place. This accomplishes one of our goals: to get everything written down in one place. However, it doesn’t accomplish our primary goal: to get everything done in a timely fashion with minimum stress.
Another (food-related) way to look at this issue is to answer these questions:
- Do you have a kitchen?
- If so, do you have a silverware drawer?
- And a junk drawer?
- Does your calendar look like your silverware drawer or your junk drawer?
This is the fun, interactive example I use during my Focus Pocus: 24 Tricks for Regaining Command of Your Day seminar to get people thinking about how they can be more efficient and productive. The point is that getting everything into one place is the first step in efficient productivity. The second step is having a sorting system for all those things so your brain doesn’t have to constantly sort things before selecting which to do next.
Two things happened today that prompted this article. The first occurred during a keynote speech I was delivering at the Society of Financial Examiners annual educational conference.
The room was filled with four hundred executives who had gathered to hear some modern-day time management suggestions. I was talking about how important it is to get some down time during the day to refresh and refocus. In a moment of clarity, I blurted out, “And whatever happened to recess?” The question drew a rousing cheer and loud applause! I thought to myself, “Yeah, whatever did happen to recess?”
An hour later, I was reviewing my e-mail on the way to the airport. There was a fairly lengthy thread started by my business partner in my other business – Outdoorplay. He was congratulating our Customer Service Manager on closing a large phone order.
The conversation really took off though when our General Manager announced that tomorrow’s lunch would be pizza compliments of the company. Everyone was congratulating Stacey, thanking Brian, and debating what type of pizzas should be ordered. You can’t mandate the kind of collegiality a simple pizza party can produce.
My inbound marketing coach, Mike Redbord, at HubSpot recently observed that I was an “average” blogger. The trouble is that he’s right! I post a new blog article about every seven to ten days and most of them are somewhat long…ish, averaging in the neighborhood of 1,000 to 1,200 words each. Who’s got that much time anymore?
Mike’s okay with my blogging since we’re going to focus our work more on the static content pages of my web site – with the view of increasing the number of people contacting me to learn more about my non-blogging services. That is, the ones I get paid for! But his words haunted me all weekend and it slowly dawned on me that his message to me and my message to my clients are very similar – small, incremental change aggregates into large benefit.
With that in mind, here’s a short snippet of thought to consider.
Instead of doing the normal “set your goals” first-of-the-year post that you’d expect from a productivity guy, I wanted to do something different. The purpose of New Year’s resolutions is to take stock of our lives and, hopefully, find things we can improve. However, making a list of resolutions that invariably fail is not only pointless and unproductive, it’s failure – plain and simple. Why do we want to start the year off with a failure?
And then it hit me! The rate of failure of New Year’s resolutions is so high that their failure must have a pattern, a discernible weakness. That got me to thinking. Why do these resolutions (and similar commitments) fail so often? More importantly, how could that dynamic be changed to make keeping resolutions a successful experience?
Much thought and many discussions ensued to uncover the dynamics of resolution failure. The theory proposed below was developed based on these informal research sessions and the actual experiences of success I encountered. I’m sure there are thousands (millions?) of PhDs who could give us all a lesson on the hows and whys we have difficulty maintaining commitments. But, candidly, if they were so smart, they’d be able to do more than explain why we can’t fulfill certain types of commitments, they’d offer us an answer that can be translated into action resulting in success.