I was talking with the wonderful Ed Percival last week and he observed something interesting. In conversation I kept saying ‘I should do this’, ‘I should do that’. And I spoke about adding these ‘should dos’ to a list. ‘And maybe I should schedule time to do these things into the diary? 09.30, write blog post. 10.30, write proposal, 1.30 phone calls, 2.30 go for a walk, etc etc.’
Ed suggested that this to do list (or should do list!) is not very helpful. As it grows it becomes more off-putting, more likely to remain uncompleted, and more likely to create a sense of failure. I think he’s right, and this may be partly why I don’t currently keep many lists. He also wondered how I might approach these scheduled tasks if I schedule them as completed.
I’m dropping should from my ‘making stuff happen’ vocabulary, and yesterday I got a bunch of stuff done, some of it had been hanging around longer than I’d originally intended. And later this week I’m going to schedule completed tasks in the diary and see how that works. 09.30 blog post written, 10.30, proposal written, 1.30 pm phone calls made, 2.30, just returned from 2 mile walk.
I’ll let you know how I get on. Meantime, what ideas do you have for getting stuff done?
I’ve never been a fan of the former, and I’ve always believed in the latter. My first boss in BT would expect us to return to the office in Croydon after meeting a customer in Wales/Toddington/Leicester, anywhere. He would rather stare out of his office at the back of our heads (with no knowledge of what we were actually up to) than permit us to return home after the meeting and be productive there. Wasted time, wasted fuel, no trust, no….well you get the idea.
Things change – and before leaving BT in 2009 I and they enjoyed the prodiuctive benefits of flexible working. I know companies will never please everyone but on this I think BT tries hard and does well, most of the time.
Most recently, we’ve seen our old enemy fear lurking in the dark corners. Oh dear, am I being watched? I’d better nail my backside to the chair all day. I’d better get there before everyone else. I dare not leave first. It seems that the recession has caused an overload of presenteeism, and indeed, binge working. My work’s bigger than your work, you get the picture.
I believe in many things. I ask many questions. “What’s the least I can do to have a meaningful impact?” I’m not proud of input per se, (though I see the benefit of research, preparation, training etc.) I love output.
Katherine Wiid runs a wonderful people management business called Recrion. She has written a lovely short piece on the power of productivity and brevity which I think you might like. Have a read, then maybe go for a short walk and have a think. Go on, it’s OK, the lurker has turned its back, and I’ll keep an eye out for you.