For anyone – is there anyone actually reading this? – reading the infrequent posts I writer here, you might remember that instead of a New Year’s resolution, I wanted to make smaller, continuous improvements. I called it Twelve Things I Hate About Me, partly because I love the ’90s and partly because I think I’m clever.
This process has been very eye-opening. Obviously, I knew I spent a lot of time on the computer but until I had to be conscious about every time I reached for my smart phone or logged into my laptop, I think I underestimated how much of my time is spent “connected.”
Case in point; day 1. My wife worked so I had both boys, and two hours after we were all up and fed, I knew that Tottenham was playing on TV. Normally, I would have kept at least part of one eye on the boys, and the rest on the ticker. It was actually shocking how often I reached for the blackberry, only to shake my head and leave it in my pocket. The thing is, the first morning was amazing; the boys didn’t fight for my attention or with each other. Instead of reacting – “did you just push him?” – I was able to see things happening and prevent them.
It’s still far to easy to sit on the couch and read blogs/tweets/articles while I’m “watching” TV or just hanging out with my wife. I’ve made a conscious effort to put all devices away when we are talking, but I’m far from completely focused.
Work has been more challenging though. I know this is a process, but I was surprised how hard it is to give everyone the proper focus and attention. With all the social tools we use at TELUS, it was very hard to completely disconnect for each meeting. We have too many big initiatives in the mix to be off the grid for hours at a time. I know quarter one is going to be pedal to the floor for the learning team at TELUS, so the timing couldn’t have been worse (or maybe better?) for trying to completely revamp how I work, but I’m getting there.
I have made improvements and they have made me a better dad/employee/husband, but it hasn’t been as successful as I would like. I expected to be able to quit cold turkey, but I guess this is like any other addiction. I still log into my gmail more often than I should and I still surf aimlessly when I could dedicate my time to something of value.
I’ve made some adjustments that will help:
- Moving emails to Evernote so I can focus on getting things done, not just trying to swim above the never ending storm of emails – but it’s a process.
- Blocking off segments of my day (15 minute blasts every 90 minutes) strictly to check my social channels for information, questions or answers. It may seem silly, but it’s almost like going on a social diet. MODERATION!
- This may seem ridiculous, but actually reading meeting requests, not just seeing who they are from and where they fit into my day. Too often, I fill gaps with meetings I don’t need to attend, and I’m getting slightly better at understanding it’s up to me to determine how my time is best spent.
- Saying NO, when appropriate. Taking on too much or helping too often seems like a good problem to have, but when you are already operating at 120% time, taking on more negatively impacts your work.
So overall grade? Maybe a B, but the potential to really improve how I work is there and that’s what this exercise was about.
Up next? Well, it’s time to start providing solutions not just piling on to the problem.