Culture & Competency

WWPYCBW: Productivity and Effectiveness (August 5, 2008)

Contents at a Glance
– Eric Reflects on Successful Outcomes
– Tools for Capturing Ideas
– Becoming More Time Conscious

Eric Reflects on Successful Outcomes
Eric reflects on the idea of “wild success” and the creation of eProductivity for Notes, and how powerful it is to start a new project with a clear sense of where you want to be.

When I set out to develop my eProductivity software, I followed David’s recommendation and decided to write my own review. I decided to summarize the product in two sentences, each from the perspective of a different audience. eProductivity is built on Lotus Notes, so I decided that the Notes community would provide one perspective. Since eProductivity embodies many of the principles that I learned from David’s book, I decided that the GTD community should provide the other.

I’m reminded of something that Michael Hyatt said recently (but I can’t find the link … grrr) … “the world needs more great books”, not just mediocre ones. And the same applies to software, services, projects and people … we need more GREATNESS … in terms of doing more than the average. Envisioning what that looks like is critical, and Eric has given us a prime example.

Tools for Capturing Ideas
Andre outlines a list of 8 tools for capturing ideas and interruptions so they don’t destroy cognitive focus.

One way of maintaining focus is to simply develop the discipline to stick with your current task and ignore new thoughts and external interruptions. Or it may be necessary to handle the interruption first, then return to the original task. But it doesn’t have to be an either/or choice.

The third option is to use a collection tool to capture either the interruption or to “bookmark” the current task. Remember, you don’t need to think through what you capture at the moment you’re capturing it. You can always process (clarify the outcomes and actions of) these reminders at a later stage.

Key ideas: write it down and therefore get it out of your head (make it explicit), put work that gets interrupted back in your inbox, and use some sort of capture tool.

This is key advice to remaining sane. My strategy is a combination of a Levenger Circa Junior (for written notes) and an Olympus DS-2300 voice recorder (for spoken notes and rapid brainstorming). I have friends (hey Steve!) that use a Moleskine for this, but I don’t like the boundedness of it … the Circa gives me room to grow and reduce, as needed.

Becoming More Time Conscious
Felicity looks into the way we use our time, and how to become more conscious of what we are doing. A time log is noted as a key driver of greater consciousness of time use.

My log showed me just how bad my time perception was. Those freelance jobs I agreed to do in one day actually needed three, so I was chronically stressed. Those days set aside for working on my book, on the other hand, were used to catch up on sleep or to procrastinate. The solution to the former was to multiply my “time estimates” by three, while the solution to the latter problem was to reduce the time available to work. By giving myself an open-ended work day, I lost focus.

And a second driver is a clear picture of what you have to get done on any given day.

Another tip the industrial psychologist gave me was to plan the day by reviewing what needed to be done each night and writing a to-do list for the next day. This works so long as you don’t overload the list with things to do and get discouraged when you see that the list still hasn’t been ticked off by the end of the day. Eight to-do items is probably a realistic number, assuming that some of them are small tasks.

I could do with a new way of tracking my time … I do it in chunks throughout the day, but sometimes forget. Perhaps that 15-minute timer in my drawer needs to come out again. And as I have said previously, a clear picture of what I want to get done on a week-by-week basis is very powerful … especially for keeping focus.

Categories: Culture & Competency