I’m a massive advocate of action. Get stuff done. Don’t be a passenger. All that shtick.
I’m also a big fan of innovation. Of trying to demonstrate to others what good looks like. Of being part of the change.
But the conflict here is that in order to make a change, in order to do some coaching or even to come up with ideas for weekly blog posts you need to stop doing.
You can’t keep running indefinitely else you’ll get tired and burn out. You need to slow down to a walk from time to time.
You need to put down your to-do list. You need thinking time. This is where the magic happens, yet very rarely do we deliberately allow for this. It sometimes just happens by chance, but more often than not our days are maxed out with meetings, conference calls and email. It takes someone else to remind us, and when they do we remember just how important it is.
An example of this is that I was recently asked to produce a work breakdown structure for the different projects I’m involved with. A week later I was asked again (because I hadn’t had made time yet). Another week later I was asked again (because I still hadn’t found made time yet). Jumping from task to task, meeting to meeting, and losing a bunch of time in the void, meant that I was in a very reactive state. So yes stuff was getting done, but nothing major, and certainly nothing new.
I’m fortunate in that my manager recognised this and offered to help. I accepted and we ended up taking 2 hours out of a normal day to just sit in a room and create the work breakdown structure together, drawing it on the wall and using post it notes as we went along.
It exposed that I was over capacity. That in July I would become a bottleneck as 2 different projects had peaks of activity. That there were some important meetings I needed to start scheduling now, in order to get people’s time to complete tasks due 3 weeks from now.
It was great to just stop reacting for a short time and stand and think. To allow myself the space to ponder on what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, how I’m doing it.
It gave me clarity on what to do next, what’s important to succeed on my projects and what the priorities are.
Getting stuff done feels good. Clearing email out of your inbox is incredibly addictive. Crossing items off your to-do list is ridiculously satisfying.
But, to facilitate something new, something existing has to give.
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You need to slow down in order to speed up. Don’t wait for someone else to remind you, make yourself some thinking time this week.
Clear a space in your diary to stop doing and start thinking. Timebox it. But set the deliberate intention to switch off auto-pilot. To re-focus on what’s important and regain control again – nothing is more empowering than that!