Issue No. 285 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting highlights a book that says you shouldn't be reading this eNews in the morning! Plus, this reminder: check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff meetings.
The pressure's on! I need a zinger first sentence to capture your attention—so you'll buy this book (a likely Top-10 pick for my 2013 list). But then I chilled when Bob Kelly shared this from Larry McMurtry:
"You expect far too much of a first sentence. Think of it as analogous to a good country breakfast: what we want is something simple, but nourishing to the imagination. Hold the philosophy, hold the adjectives, just give us a plain subject and a verb and perhaps a wholesome, non-fattening adverb or two."
So let's try this:
“Should you answer that email,
or answer your calling?”
I rarely, if ever, quote back cover promo copy to introduce a book—but that first sentence grabbed my attention. Here's the full context: “Should you answer that email, or answer your calling? Tune into social media, or tune in to your own voice? Respond to other people's needs, or actively set your own agenda? When it comes to creative work, every decision, every day, matters.”
The unique approach for Manage Your Day-to-Day is compelling: 20 authors, 20 short chapters, and 20 full-page spread quotations, like this one from Warren Buffet: “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say 'no' to almost everything.”
The 20 authors call this a “playbook of best practices—the missing curriculum that you didn't get in school” for making ideas happen. And it over-delivers. I scribbled down 37 memorable points I'll revisit in the future, including this one:
“The biggest problem we face today is 'reactionary workflow.' We have started to live a life pecking away at the many inboxes around us, trying to stay afloat by responding and reacting to the latest thing: e-mails, text messages, tweets and so on.”
One solution: in addition to team off-sites for planning and staying on-course, schedule an off-site with yourself. Why must you recalibrate frequently? “Bad habits creep in, especially as we naturally acclimate to a changing work environment, and we end up working at the mercy of our surroundings,” says Scott Belsky. “If you keep playing without any time-outs, your game starts to slip.”
This project from the innovative minds at 99U (the book begs to be browsed) will spark your creative juices with four major thrusts:
--Building a Rock-Solid Routine (including Seth Godin on “Honing Your Creative Practice”)
--Finding Focus in a Distracted World (get this: “Banishing Multitasking from Our Repertoire”)
--Taming Your Tools (“Reconsidering Constant Connectivity”)
--Sharpening Your Creative Mind (“Training Your Mind to Be Ready for Insight” and “Getting Unstuck”)
Especially targeted to creatives (but with insights for all of us), I'm putting it right alongside Getting Things Done. That book delivered the how—but Manage Your Day-to-Day delivers the why, the inspiration, tools for change—and dozens of Aha! principles for people you're mentoring.
A few notes from this quick, but powerful read:
1. Never invest the best part of your day on other peoples' projects.
2. Do creative work first, reactive work second.
3. Manage to-do list creep (limit yourself to one 3”x3” Post-It).
4. Create daily focus blocks.
5. Find windows of non-stimulation.
6. Warning on social media, “For many of us, mindlessness is the default state”--so we must judiciously disconnect.
7. Review the 10 questions to ask before you post on social media (“Am I looking for validation? Is there something I could do to validate myself?”)
8. Understand the difference between information overload and information over-consumption.
9. Ponder! We have lost the distinction between urgent and important.
10. Cross off Fridays.
In his chapter, “Reclaiming Our Self-respect,” James Victore admonishes, “The gym and the park are no longer places for personal development or reflection, but just another place to 'check in.' It used to be that taking a phone call while at the dinner table or on the john was seen as incredibly bad manners or a sign of mental illness. Now it's commonplace and acceptable. Self-respect and etiquette are being nudged out of our lives in lieu of convenient connection. Even work has no time or place and spills out all over our personal lives.”
Manage Your Day-to-Day is part prophetic, part preacher, and part practitioner. Here are three ways to leverage this extraordinary tool:
1) Staff Meetings: Dip into one chapter a week for the next 20 weeks.
2) Monday Lunch Bunch 50-Minute Marathon – Pre-assign five-minute chapter reviews to 20 people and knock off 10 chapters per lunch over the next two Mondays. Order pizza.
3) Off-site Idea Starters: For your next off-site, pre-assign five-minute chapter reviews for the top of each hour. Inspire staff to pick their own chapters—based on interest.
If you struggle with procrastination, starting (or finishing), waiting until you “feel” creative, a boss who overloads you, and/or three dozen other symptoms of an undiagnosed deeper productivity/creativity challenge—this book's for you or someone who reports to you. The 20 very creative authors (websites included) have a message for you:
“You're smarter than
your smart phone!”
To order this book from Amazon, click on the graphic below for: Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, by Jocelyn K. Glei, Editor
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) Lena Horne is quoted, “It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it.” Ask your colleagues this question, “Do I invest more energy in whining about overload than I invest in learning best practices for creativity and productivity?”
2) Seth Godin says, “...being creative means that you have to sell your ideas. If you're a professional, you do not get to say, 'Ugh, now I have to go sell it'--selling is part of it because if you do not sell it, there is no art. No fair embracing one while doing a sloppy job of the other.” What does that mean for you?
Filter Email Against Your Complex Goals
Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
Goal-setting and goal-alignment are foundational to effectiveness so that's why the first chapter in Mastering the Management Buckets is the Results Bucket.
According to Stephen Covey's research, 81 percent of all employees do not have clear, measurable goals. Do you?
Aaron Dignan, chapter author of “Making E-Mail Matter” in Manage Your Day-to-Day, uses his goals as a filter for his email. “Every four months or so, I identify my two or three complex goals and tape a list of them to my desk as a reminder.”
He adds, “My most important rule in achieving your goals via your inbox is that distracting opportunities have to die for your most important goals to live.”
For more resources, nine book recommendations, and a free download of the Results Bucket chapter, visit the webpage.