(Curtis admits that he could be better at saying “no” to requests for his time, but it’s getting easier with success.)
I wanted to like this book, I really did. But the voice / narrative device was just awkward. I agree with other reviewers that you should skip everything but the last two chapters, where Dr. Jensen speaks with his authentic voice – it’s much more engaging, readable, and memorable.
I did learn and have made part of my daily routine some of the strategies/tactics described, and they work, so worth working through regardless.
If you think that being productive is about working harder that might be your problem. Getting proper sleep, exercise, and diet. You might even consider taking smoke breaks (without the smoke) – get outside, walk around, reset your brain for the next task…
[this is a summer re-post series re-post]
Being productive means different things for different people. For example who’s to say that spending time with your children isn’t an effective use of your time? What it comes down to is being in control of how you spend your time, which means learning to simplify, or even say “no”, to anything else that draws your attention and effort away from what makes you productive, whatever that means to you.
My favourite tip from this productivity info-graphic is: “Start before you feel ready – avoid chicken and egging.”
Some of my clients praise the staff that come to work early and stay late. I think they’re focused on the wrong thing. I’d rather work with somebody that comes in late, leaves early, and still gets all their work done. That’s the key – are they delivering on their work? What is the quantity, quality, and timeliness of their work?
That’s where you get your value. If you don’t know if you’re getting value from an employee or direct report, maybe you haven’t defined your expectations very well. That’s your problem.
But they’re loyal! Maybe. Or they’re scared, or incompetent, or both. Get clear on what you’re expecting, then re-evaluate. You might have to communicate those expectations clearly. You might have some work to do here yourself.
Maybe they’re escaping from something in the outside world. Not very emotionally healthy, but okay. Someone who spends too much time in the office (for whatever value of “too much” you want to define) probably isn’t’ as productive as you think, at least not sustainable. Getting away, unplugging, refreshing, and having a healthy life (again, for whatever value of “healthy” that means for them or you) lets people come to work focused, alert, creative, and at their best.
And what happens if you hit a spike (or dip) in your business? Will you and your staff have enough gas left in the tank, enough capacity, to handle the extra demand?
Even entrepreneurs who are building a business need a break. Should have a break. Will do better and be able to think more strategically when they’re *not* spending every minute of their time on the business.
Never been a big fan of “SMART” lists, having watched people wrap themselves around the axle trying to fit whatever goal or task they’re trying to fit into the SMART paradigm. Which is why I was delighted to find this, the best explanation of how to use SMART goals properly that I’ve found so far.
Truths About Leadership Nobody Wants to Hear Part 3
“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.” Andrew Carnegie
In the course of my work I often get to ask people what their “priorities” are. There are two problems with this. The word “priority”, much like “integrity” or “quality” has so many meanings to so many different people that it’s meaningless.
Second, as “Think Like A Freak” points out, simply asking people what’s important to them doesn’t necessarily work. Not that people are being deliberately deceptive. They’ll just often give you the answer they think you want, and then go do what they really want to.
So I’ve started asking my clients to start tracking how they spend their time. There are a couple of ways to do this: Set a time for a regular interval and write down what you’re doing when it goes off. Set an alarm a given number of times at random intervals during the day and write down what you’re doing when it goes off. Or just be really disciplined about writing down how you spend every moment.
It’s a bit of a pain, but it’s a very interesting exercise in self-awareness if you’ve never done it before. You can do it for yourself is you like. At the end of a week look for the patterns and figure out what they tell you, if anything. FYI the random interval timer gives the best data sampling.
What’s the point? Show me documented evidence of how you spend your time, and I’ll tell you what your priorities really are.
Our Blind Spots
This exercise is not about judging and shaming. If you want to spend ten hours a day cruising the internet for cat videos then fill your proverbial puss-in-boots. But if you tell others (or more importantly yourself) that “family”, “career”, etc. are the most important things in your life, and you spend 10 hours a day cruising the internet for cat videos, then you might have some decisions to make.
We all have blind spots when it comes to ourselves. Most of us think we’re the only ones that don’t, because, well, it’s our blind spot. We watch what others do, not just what they say, but we all don’t watch ourselves.
People are watching you. Not just listening to the words that come out of your mouth. How you say things, your facial expressions, your eye contact, your body language. They watch your work – the quantity, quality, and timeliness of your work. Who you spend time with, what you spend time on, and the decisions you make when deadlines loom and budgets escape their cages. How you treat customers, which suppliers you use, and who you hire and fire.
Especially who you hire or fire – how fast you do it, for what reasons (stated and implied), who gets promoted, who gets training, who gets chosen for special projects, who gets assigned to what work, and so on.
You say more with these actions than you ever will with a poster of company values in the lunchroom. And if your actions and the poster are inconsistent with each other, guess which one they’ll believe?
The Hard Work
Deciding what not to do. It’s really really hard. So hard that many people go look at cat videos instead. But it’s liberating.
Take a look at your to-do list now. What’s been hanging around the longest without being done? If it’s still really important then do it. Actually spend time moving it forward. If not, cross it off your list and don’t look back. You’re free now – you have more time to do what’ really important.
Then do that again tomorrow…
With a nod to James Clear, “6 Truths About Exercise Nobody Wants to Believe” for the inspiration
What are you going to stop doing?
You may have already seen this on Business Insider, but it’s been on Reddit as long as five years ago: a 1944 manual on sabotaging organizations from the inside, including a chapter on “General Interference with Organizations and Production.”
If you read that chapter, it’s amazing (to me) how many of these behaviours still show up every day in many organizations…
Here’s the full PDF version on CIA website:
…and here are the results
“There are two people in the unit you never want to piss off: the quartermaster and the pay-clerk. No beans, no bullets, and no cash for the bar.” — Sergeant B. L.
This can also be told as: “A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, isn’t nice.” I’ve heard told as dating advice in that context, but it also has a leadership application.
The so-called “little people” have power. Yes, I’ve heard them called that, and it made me wonder what kind of person they are. The bottom line is that you depend on everybody on your team to get the the job done. If people who work with or for you perceive a sense of entitlement, privilege, or power over will do two things for you:
- You’ll have people working with or for you that don’t have anywhere else to go, so they have to put up with your shit. If you treat people poorly, you’ll have poor staff.
- You’ll get your coffee spit in, if you can get a coffee. Or your project will get sabotaged, you’ll only get what you can force out of people. If that’s your jam then go ahead. Personally I don’ t have the energy to lead that way.
If your boss / client / supplier / peer has an executive administrator, then I strongly invite you to nurture an authentic relationship with them. He or she is your boss’s gatekeeper. He can make your job much harder if you give him reason to. Like, for example, mocking him for being a guy secretary.
Things you might want to consider when interacting with any administrator:
- Respect their desk and supplies. Don’t borrow their stapler without asking. It’s their desk, treat it with the respect you would for anybody else’s. Their office supplies are not public property. Do you go through your boss’s desk looking for a three-hole punch? No? Don’t do it to her admin either.
- Respect their personal space. Don’t lean on their desk and tower over them. At best it’s an obnoxious power play. That’s how they’ll perceive it, even if that wasn’t your intention. Remember that communication is what the listener does: if somebody thinks you’re being creepy, it’s because you’re doing something creepy.
- Look them in the eye, not at their cleavage. This one is so obvious, but there are still men who do this. Yes, they can tell. Even when you think they’re not looking. If you’re lucky they’re just laughing at you behind your back because you think they can’t tell.
- Be nice to them all the time, not only when you need something from them. You know when people are sucking up to you just because they need something from you. That means other people can tell when you’re doing it to them.
- The best and fastest way to build a relationship with somebody is to learn their name. If it’s your first day, learn the boss’s secretary’s name, and as many of the other administrators as you can.
- Be nice to all of them. They talk to each other. I’m not condoning gossip here but they do compare notes. Who’s good to work for, who isn’t, who’s an asshole. If you’re polite to one and not the other, you’re not polite.
Your boss’s administrator has tremendous influence. A good receptionist/administrator is worth their weight in gold. Treat them with respect and that’s what you’ll get in return.