This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.
Back when I was Director of Industrial Engineering at Nabisco's Planters-Lifesavers Division, one of my duties was to deal with the wide range of stuff that my boss (the VP of Operations) kept throwing in my direction to research, review, or report back to him on. Recognizing that he was about as curious and inquisitive and attention challenged as myself, I quickly realized that not everything he passed along to me was really top priority. Rather than go back to him and ask "What don't you want me to do?," I often found myself using my judgment to simply prune my to-do list without action. I rationalized this with the theory that if really was important, he would bring it up again. I never really got burned by doing this, so I guess my judgment was good enough.
Making Parkinson's Law Work for You -- More from the book I mentioned yesterday, The 4-Hour Workweek...
If I give you a week to complete the same task, it's six days of making a mountain out of a molehill. If I give you two months, God forbid, it becomes a mental monster. The end product of the shorter deadline is almost inevitably of equal or higher quality due to greater focus.
This presents a very curious phenomenon. There are two synergistic approaches for increasing productivity that are inversions of one another:
1.) Limit tasks to the important to shorten work time. (80/20) 2.) Shorten work time to limit tasks to the important. (Parkinson's Law).
The best solution is to use both together: Identify the few critical tasks that contribute most to income and schedule them with very short and clear deadlines.
Of course this assumes you are capable of fooling yourself into honoring self-imposed short deadlines - kind of like setting your clocks fast to avoid being late.
"Multi-tasking is dead. It never worked and it never will. Intelligent people love to sing its praises because it gives them permission to avoid the much more challenging alternative: focusing on one thing." –- Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek
Of course you already knew that.
Also, related, from Michael S. Hyatt...
"Most of us don't spend enough time thinking. We are so busy doing that we have, I fear, almost forgotten how to think. Yet it is our thinking, more than any other single activity, that influences our outcomes.
"The problems we face will not likely be solved by working harder. New gadgets won't really help either. In fact, I sometimes fear that our many gadgets have only added unnecessary clutter to our lives. What we need is better, more profound thinking.
Multi-thinking -- In Innovation Tools, Jeffrey Baumgartner offers good advice for those who feel compelled to multi-task...
"...it is inevitable that your mind occasionally turns to one task while you are working on another. A multi-tasker would be inclined to switch tasks at this point. I recommend you stick to the task at hand, but keep a notebook or at least some paper nearby when performing any tasks. (I recommend having a notebook with you all the time). When the mind turns from the task at hand to another task, simply note down your thoughts in the notebook. Then return to the task at hand."
He goes on to suggest that a good time and place to woolgather/brainstorm/multi-thnk ideas and issues for different responsibilities is while in "long, crowded meetings." I've got concerns about consciously doing that, from a missed information perspective as well as from a civil politeness point of view, but I do like the general idea.
Recording mental interruptions to a physical "in-box" (collection of notes) to be processed and addressed later, frees up the mind for attention to "the task at hand."