Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Archive for the category “Time Management”

Procrastination is Like Learning to Drive

I was thinking today as I ran about what happens when we think about tasks/ actions/ challenges. For a while I’ve been thinking about how I need to create as shallow an ‘on-ramp’ (like a ramp into a carpark or motorway?) as possible to tasks. Rather than having the action to do and building up objections sub-consciously to the effort of doing it (Forster’s reactive brain), I need to do a little bit of pre-planning to stop building the blockages to doing the task.

What I thought about as I ran was when I learnt to drive in a fully manual car, one of the really tricky bits was the clutch control. The whole balancing/ tipping point bit around not over-revving and potentially stalling when taking the clutch off too quickly and not under-revving and avoiding going anywhere (apologies to any pure- automatic drivers who think I’m now talking in Swahili…….) In the worst case scenario you end up flooding the engine.

So my question was whether taking action on tasks/ projects/ challenges and goals is like learning to drive and are we all still stuck in learner mode? I know I sometimes over-rev and stall in advance of taking action. Over-thinking and over-anticipating the small amount of effort actually required to be successful. There are still skeletons littering my project and task list (and in some furthest corners my goals and vision statements) which are like flooded engines. Too much anticipation has built up in the cylinders of my mind and I just can’t start on them.

I need some advanced driver lessons.

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Managing the brain and managing the emotions…

… are absolutely two different things. I was talking with one of my client senior managers with the widest span of responsibility yesterday.

They’re coping with a lot of the things that leaders have to. I started to explain things in terms of suspending a balance between the following areas of accountability as a leader and manager:

1. Being involved in the detail (normally on an urgent/ important basis) sufficient to be able to make an informed decision when called on to do so

2. Maintaining progress on the list of important value-add or change areas that will step change the company’s performance and future success (inc. strategy)

3. Monitoring and maintaining the systems of control over process as well as managing, mentoring and coaching people to be able to run the company tactically and operationally

I realised that the big challenge in this is that you can mentally allocate the focus to areas two and three; area one normally drags you in without your planning. Arguably, area three. is easier to plan for in terms of operational review meetings, 121s, performance reviews and coaching sessions.

But that’s all about the conscious intent as opposed to the reality.

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Time Management and Satisficing

Massage by Steve Woods

Massage by Steve Woods

Satisficing is defined as ‘a decision-making strategy which attempts to meet criteria for adequacy, rather than to identify an optimal solution’ – Wikipedia. It is a blend of words: satisfy and suffice.

Most tasks tend to expand to fill the time that we give to do them.

I started thinking about whether satisficing could help explain why it is sometimes possible to create some great work in the 30 minutes before a deadline and yet produce a similar quality (if more long-winded) product if you’ve given yourself a day to do it.

I wrote about whether I create these time bound situations myself to thrive better under stress. Now I wonder whether satisficing is the flip side of this. That of producing something that satisfies and is sufficient for the time given.

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