Tuesday, August 5, 2008

If you are in a hurry...

I read a book by an author, Alan Cohen, titled A Deep Breath of Life. It was a gift so many years ago that I can't recall how long I have actually had it. Alan writes inspirational thoughts of daily living and one of my absolute favorites is a story about a retreat with this sign:

If you are in a hurry, you are in the wrong place.

That phrase has been plastered to my computer for years. And I do my best to incorporate it into my work style. It isn't natural for me, I am a get-it-done-now, tyranny-of-the-urgent kind of gal and I need reminders. BIG reminders. This is a good one.

Annually, I look at how I handle work and adjust accordingly. Recently it was my annual review and I thought I would share some tips on how I make my work -work!

1. I don't cyber squat. (And Twitter is making it that much harder!). I check my email 4-6 times per day but I actually close it down in between. This prevents me from peeking - just to see what's there and it allows me uninterrupted time on projects. I have also removed the bells and whistles -my funny announcement - there's a message for you, sire -that had me trained better than my dog to quick check who was writing. You know, just quick a minute.

2. I do my best project work in the morning. I am caffeinated, alert and ready to go. I try to do as much head's down, grind it out work without interruption in morning. I save my meetings, when possible, for the afternoon. Granted, it doesn't always work out this way, but I do my best to schedule people time when I haven't a neuron left for reading.

3. I slow it down with people. Much like social work, the reason people come to see me isn't always the reason they come to see me. So if I pay attention, and give them time, I usually get to the reason. It is quite incredible how the question, 'so what else is going on?' will open up the floodgates. The feedback is tremendous and I know it works.

4. I get out more. Two to three times a week, I go work in our beautiful atrium. I spend about an hour sitting with my computer, writing or checking email. The curious thing is that mostly I don't do any work. My goal is to see people. And talk. And connect. And be seen. Last time I sat and worked in the atrium, I talked to 15 people.

5. I change my scenery. Frequently, I will go somewhere other than my office to do work. We have a wonderful library, the atrium, the Pond, etc. Sometimes the office walls look so stale and uninspiring. I encourage my staff to take time out and look for inspiration in other places too.

So shake it a bit. And slow it down.


The Happy Employee said...

Great post. I'm a sucker for productivity stuff, but this article is awesomely refreshing.

I'm good at 1 and 3, but I'll try to implement 2, 4 and 5.

HR Maven said...

Hey thanks for stopping by!

It isn't rocket science but it works for me. I have an employee who writes better in the afternoon so a different clock works for him.

As I remind myself when I leave work - so much of this will be here in the AM.