First off, I am awful at time management but I think I am great at task prioritization. I also believe in Free Will and Natural Harmonics. For most of the people around me, these concepts sound like a broken record until they start seeing the results. I try very hard to communicate concepts to my teams without making them follow them. Just because they work for me, doesn’t mean they work for everyone. “Results may vary.”
We all wake up every morning and decide what we WANT to do in the first few minutes of our day. We begrudge the things that we SHOULD or NEED to do. There are always things that we NEED to do, like pay our power bill. But hopefully, we are offloading the things that we NEED to do through automation or people that WANT to do these things. Also, some of the things that we SHOULD do are fluid and we may WANT to do them on another day.
I learned this about myself on my last “pre-tirement” (another blog post). I also believe that everyone operates this way on a conscious or subconscious level.
Regardless of compensation plans, contracts, etc., most people will do whatever the f*ck they want to do. In startups, we see odd behavior where we ask someone to complete a task, and then they don’t, but they complete a different task. In corporations, projects don’t get done, or they get “reprioritized.” Unfortunately, sometimes the team members with the most APTITUDE for the task have the wrong ATTITUDE and just won’t do it.
Now what do we do?
We learn from this and try to figure out what this person WANTS to do. Hopefully, we can put them in a place where they get to do what they WANT, either in our own organizations or elsewhere. Obviously, we need to have a long-term plan for our people. However, we have to understand that Free Will is at least a daily event. Sometimes people need an outlet to get through the things that they SHOULD do to get to the things that they WANT to do. The daily Stand Up meeting is a great tool (thanks team SWA for using this!).
What about a startup that doesn’t have a team yet? Use a 1-Day “shot clock” to get the most important things done. If they can’t be done in a day, make the task smaller so that it can be done in a day. This helps get the things that SHOULD be done a little less painful. I applied my 1-Day Accelerator to a program called BEST (a joint program between GaTech and Emory) for Post-docs. Post-docs have BIG ideas and are very smart. Making them focus on refining a BIG idea into tangible steps that they can start getting done is the challenge. For this group, these steps were all things that they NEEDed to do but didn’t WANT to do. Good news, it was only 1 day of pain and for a Post Doc, a small effort compared to their cumulative academic career.