time management

simplify, simplify, simplify

I’m an information junkie, but can’t keep up.  I have a hard time deciding which are the best sources –I’m interested in such a wide range of topics and I want it all. This means I’m overwhelmed just by email. And then factor in magazines for business, HR/training, world news, cars, mountain bikes, etc that keep showing up. And then add in all the social media, blogs, forums, etc. (personal and work) that I’m forever behind in. And then add in the to-be-read book stack that is forever growing. And then getting caught up on favorite TV shows and movies. And then, and then, and then. Woof. Exhausting to even think about.

Email is brutal.Weirdly, I have four personal email addresses (wha???) in addition to several emails to keep up with at work. I realized that for most of the email I receive: 1) are notifications I signed up for (blogs, forums, industry news, etc.); and 2) never, ever, ever get read. Ever.  I used to think it was quicker to just delete those I didn’t want to read and move on, but I became aware of how much time I was losing from even the distraction of incoming email, let alone time and energy figuring out if it was worth bothering to read. So I’ve started unsubscribing from the blogs and newsletter I don’t read and shutting off the notifications from the ones I do. That took longer than you’d think. At work, I’m still unsubscribing from several email lists a day. 

I started keeping track of websites where I have a login with a password. I never remember the passwords of several important sites that I visit only once a month or so and wanted to actually write them down somewhere. But I also wanted to see how many sites I have passwords for and start getting rid of the ones I don’t use. For work, the list is about a page long. For personal that list extends three plus pages and I’m still coming across more sites. I’m especially striving to scrutinize which sites have my credit cards and remove info from the ones I use and shut down the ones I don’t.

Yet, there’s still more. And more and more. I thought this would be a quick Saturday morning project and it’s now sprawled its way across several weeks.

Simplifying, it seems, ain’t so simple.

check the box and move on

checkboxThe other day I heard someone say, “It’s better to do the right thing poorly than the wrong thing well.” This made me stop. Do something poorly? Blasphemy! Yet…

So many of the things we measure in business (and in life) make no distinction on whether our actions are focused on the right or the wrong things. Only: 1) whether or not we’ve accomplished them; and 2) how well we accomplished them.

Check the box and move on. Don’t bother to consider whether the actions helped or hurt, moved us forward or held us back. Focus on quality, not usefulness. Check the box and move on regardless of whether there was a different action – a better action – we could have taken.

Check, check, check.

People ask us how our day was. We say, “Busy.” We don’t say, “Productive” or “Effective” or “It was bumpy but we’ve made some good strides in the right direction.”

It makes me wonder how much time we spend focused on doing the wrong thing well. Measuring whether something is done is so much easier than measuring if it was right or the best thing to do. So we don’t worry about it.

Nope. Just check the damn box and move on.

if you want something done, give it to a busy person

Years ago as a consultant I noticed a trend so prevalent it borders on a Truth of the human psyche: everyone thinks they are hard workers; everyone thinks they are busy. Even the people who aren’t hard workers – who obviously and clearly aren’t busy – think they are.

Observation also shows that the most productive people are also the most eager (or at least willing) to take on new projects. On the flip side, those who spend all their time telling you how busy they are and complain about the burden of new assignments never seem to get much done.

I’d write more about this important subject, if only I weren’t so busy…

that thing

It’s out there.

On the corner of your desk, under a stack of papers, stuffed in a drawer. Or maybe it’s just written on one of many “to do” lists.

It’s “that thing”. That thing you’ve been meaning to get to. That thing you need to get done. That thing that keeps getting placed just below the daily priorities. That thing that’s been hanging out there a while.

Sure you’ve got your reasons (excuses!) for not getting it done, but who cares? That thing is still not finished. Maybe you don’t know where to start. Maybe you’re not sure how to finish it. Or maybe you know exactly what to do and simply don’t enjoy it. Whatever. Doesn’t matter. It’s still not done.

But that’s yesterday’s unfinished results. Today is fresh. Today is open possibility. Today is time for a decision: to do or not to do. Take it off the list forever undone or make it happen? Only you know for sure.

Decide. Act. Move forward.


time spent does not equal results accomplished

How much time did you spend today focused on actions that directly led (or will lead) to the accomplishment of your most important business outcomes (goals)? How much time was burned on the kind of important outcomes – the ones that would be nice to accomplish, but aren’t crucial?

How much time today did you choose to spend on unimportant tasks?

No judgment. Just a reminder that our results are a reflection of how we choose to spend our time.