Building off the great reaction we received from our post on productive solitude we started to notice that in our work conversations we were asking leaders how they were organizing their thinking and in what format. Were they using a computer, a phone, a note pad, or a bound notebook? When did they collect themselves and organize? Who did they share it with, and how did they share it?
The answers were all over the board, and many didn’t really have a system in place. They offered up that they are bouncing around trying whatever the newest form of technology has to offer. We also noticed that many leaders thought that the idea of sharing what their tasks was a big enabler for productivity. However, that wasn’t really playing out as they thought. It was leading to more emails and more confirmations on non-mission critical tasks. Does this sound familiar?
Enter in the concept of a template as a way to create boxes waiting to be filled with answers that challenge you to prioritize your thinking. An individual benefits by working with a task allocation template like the one above. The act of not just writing down your tasks, but prioritizing them, and then...
estimating the time it will take to complete the task has a calming effect. It gets your to-do’s out of your brain.
Once you have written down your tasks you can then share it with others. If you are the manager of others, consider using this template as a tool to help them develop their own way of thinking on how they are allocating their time. There are plenty of smart people who are horrible at allocating their time, and it is hard to coach them on this without appearing overbearing. Asking them to complete the template will give you a window into what they think is most important and could foster some healthy dialogue around their choices.
Constraints have long been used by athletic coaches to help players practice longer, and to develop a certain piece of the puzzle. When we are helping someone with their putting in golf we often have them putt with just their right or left hand to increase their awareness of a specific part of the stroke. Similarly, having a direct report complete the above template could build awareness around the importance of allocating their time tied into their team's needs relative to their own.
Speaking of performance read our post on Managing Oneself: Getting your B players to perform as A's
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Drew Sanders Blog
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