Archives for posts with tag: Productivity

Space is almost infinite. As a matter of fact, we think it is infinite. – Dan Quayle

I recently had a discussion with a colleague about getting things done between meetings.  The challenge we discovered was two-fold:

  1. We have all the work that is part of our day-to-day responsibilities – for purposes of this post I’ll call this day-work.
  2. We have all the work that is produced as outputs from the meetings we attend and/or facilitate – I’ll call this meeting-work.

We both were faced with the fact that we participated in a lot of meetings. [Note: for purposes of this post let’s assume that these meetings are meaningful and need to take place.]

While in our meetings our day-work was not getting done. At the same time many of the meetings were creating new work: next actions, new problems, etc. So we now had meeting-work  to accomplish.  When we arrived back at our desks we were faced with the dilemma of getting our day-work and meeting-work completed in the space left between meetings. Sound familiar?

We thought of some tips that might be helpful:

  • Get next actions right: Be sure any next actions that are identified in the meeting are specific, actionable, have an owner, a due date, and who gets the report out of the results.   Honestly, I do not always get this one right and our teams end up with ambiguous actions that when reviewed later are met with confused stares. This way the meeting work can at least be clear and unambiguous and won’t require too much investigation time.
  • Build meeting processes that complete the work for you: When facilitating, I try as much as possible to build meeting processes that result in final product for the group. This means that at the end of the meeting the desired meeting deliverables should be as close to their final form as possible. When done well, this will minimize your post-meeting work.
  • Schedule your meeting work time: As hard as you try to minimize post-meeting work as mentioned above, we often have work to complete as outcomes of our meetings. Use your calendars to hard-schedule that time in to complete the work. This could include 30 minutes prior to the meeting to ensure that you are well prepared for the meeting and 30 minutes post meeting to process the output, get a start on next actions, or schedule future time to handle the work.

What ideas do you have for creating space for meeting work?

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In Genesis, the Bible let us know that after getting things done, God rested on the seventh day.  In our busy lives, work and personal commitments rarely subside enough for us to rest, let alone focus on the not-so-critical stuff.  Here’s what David Allen had to say on a recent GTD Times post:

Every once in a while, schedule a day for the not-so-critical stuff. Otherwise the got-to’s can eat up your whole life, and the secondary things then become annoying got-to’s later on, or just create a frustration factor that mounts up.

David Allen

We might not get our full day of rest, but it makes sense to block out a 14th day or 21st day to knock out some of those lingering “Next Actions” that our eyes skip over, and over (and over.)

I’m a BIG fan of efficiency…especially when I’m on the receiving end as a customer.  Few things are more beautiful than being witness to a well orchestrated process flow from one person to another with little (or no) waste of time or material and ending with a satisfied customer – and few are more frustrating when the opposite occurs.

This story begins at the neighborhood Q Lab (names have been changed to protect the innocent) where I went this Saturday for non-routine bloodwork. Disclaimer: I did not have an appointment, it was a Saturday, and it was sunny. I arrived when the doors opened at 8:00 a.m. and the place was already crowded. I put my name on the list and there were 5 people ahead of me with 8:00 a.m. appointments. I was prepared to wait.

To my surprise, I was called in around 8:20 a.m. It was while I was sitting in Cube 1 waiting to have my blood drawn that I got my paradigmhackles raised. My assigned phlebotomist (another word for dracula) left the cube 7 times in the 10 minutes I was in there. She would look through the drawers in her supply chest (there were only 2) then go murmuring out of the cube. Here are my thoughts on this:

  • If you have routine tasks to do all the materials you need should be within reach
  • Materials that you use less often but still require should be within a few feet, but still in your work area
  • You should check your supplies often enough to be sure you won’t run out during a busy period when it’s harder to resupply
  • Keep your supplies organized so that you can find what you need when you need it. Use labeled folders, storage trays, dividers
  • Throw it away when you are done with it. The work area I was in had a cork bulletin board with multiple layers of notices – all hidden except the top layer. I have no idea what value that brings.

Share any other efficiency tips you may have in the comments area. I’d love to hear them.