leopard coat spots – work style change

I am going to offer you some free advice. Remember it is free and that its actual value may not be any greater than its cost. The cost to you is a couple of minutes of reading time.

Can you answer yes to these questions:

Most days I feel I am just keeping pace with things?

Most days I feel like I am just treading water not swimming to the island I am trying to reach?

I seem to spend all my time on stuff that is not very important?

If you answered yes then you might want to look at changing the pattern of spots in your “leopard coat”. Here are a couple of suggestions for change that might help you feel more effective.


Change 1: Instead of taking all your phone calls as they come in and dropping whatever work you are currently doing, have the staff take a message. Try to force calls into a block of time of your choosing. If you do your best “heavy thinking process” work in the morning, dedicate all your morning to that work and make call backs in the afternoon.

Change 2: Read your email first thing in the morning and then forget about it for the rest of the day. Hard to do but constantly checking email is a time waster.

Change 3: Is it necessary for you to handle ALL the details that you are currently handling. Can you not delegate more items to staff.

Change 4: Tell staff to accumulate materials for your consideration and signing and come to see you once a day or twice a week not on a per piece basis.

Change 5: As an experiment track your time for a week and generally track phone calls, unplanned visitors, solitary work, administration, strategic work, long range projects, or MLRB (minimum level to run the business). It is possible you will find the results surprising. You may find that you are spending next to zero time on strategic work.

Change 6: Urgency grid is a four zone grid of choice in which you quickly decide what value in importance and what value in urgency a piece of work possesses.

1 Urgent and Important

3 Urgent but not important

2 Not urgent but Important

4 Not urgent and not important

There is a real human nature tendency to do items that fall into #4 because usually they are easier to do and give us the false reassurance that we are accomplishing at least something with are time. When in truth if we never get to them, there is no meaningful impact.

Change 7: Time estimation – most people tend to underestimate how long it takes to do work. A good rule of thumb is to make a guess of the time you will need to get something done, then double it and add fifty per cent.

If you are doing this for the first time increase your estimate by another 50 per cent.

Most initial estimates automatically assume all will go perfectly. Most work does not go perfectly smoothly.

If your piece of work or project involves more than one person, add time.

If those people work in different physical locations (buildings) or different time schedules in the same building, add time.

If this work involves getting the approval of other people in one or many steps, add time.

One sure way to predict the amount of time is to stop and guess how many times you will have to talk to someone involved in the work, then based on past experience recall how easy it has been to reach that person by phone, by email or letter or in person.

Lastly be sure to think about how important the work is to you and to consider if it is a top priority or last priority with the people you will need to participate and cooperate with to accomplish it.

Author: William J. Gibson

62 year old - writer/photographer Canadian, survived open heart surgery, received kidney transplant, sometimes dour, sometimes amusing, over six feet in height, severely follicle challemged

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