Productivity: the right kind of chaos
Day 13 | 30-Day Blogging Challenge
I’m going slight off-piste today and talking about chaos. Not productivity. Not coaching. Not leadership skills. Chaos.
Today’s 30-Day Blogging Challenge focused on being yourself, writing content that reflects you. Sarah‘s daily email said “When you are you, you will attract people who will like and love you.” One of the things I always try to do when I’m facilitating is make people realise that it’s okay to be short of perfect, to not have it all nailed and that, I believe, is why I find connecting with participants easy.
Back to that chaos…
OK. I lied. Just a little one though…there is a bit of productivity thrown into the mix! (Note to self: be less Jane, more Elsa. For once, just ‘let it go’)
I like the phrase ‘organised chaos’. In the 7 Habits for Managers programme I facilitate, we show a great video about IDEO, a product management company based in Palo Alto (they designed the first mouse for Apple, in case you’re wondering) who have a very quirky, unique way of brainstorming which they refer to as ‘focused chaos’. It’s a fascinating insight into the antithesis of the way most organisations approach brainstorming.
It suggests a way of working that on the surface looks completely disorganised but which is actually a very effective creative process. For me, that’s the key to fulfilling work – finding my own way through the apparent confusion. It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that one of the biggest pain points for individuals, teams and organisation occurs when there is so much chaos around us but we are not sure where it is coming from.
Thankfully, chaos can be controlled – or at least harnessed – for great things. And in the words of The Jackson Five, it’s as easy as A B C (well, 1 2 3):
Assess the chaos
When we’re running around with our hair on fire, caught up in the chaotic whirlwind of everyday tasks, it’s easy to feel like you’re out of control. But this is only a perception. I’ll wager a bet that when it really matters, you’ll find the answer (or email, proposal, post-it note) that’s required. As Seth Godin says in Linchpin, the only purpose of starting is to finish. Effective productivity requires constant evaluation – by assessing and keeping check on your projects and tasks, you can see what you’ve started, what you’ve finished and what is still to be done.
Own the chaos
There is only so much control/influence/ownership you can have. What’s more important is identifying what is outside of your immediate control and be okay with it. By my own admission, I suffer from anxiety. I’m an over-thinker. But I’ve had to learn to ‘own it’. It’s not easy but because I have systems in place to keep my work on track, it’s much easier for me to focus when I need to and on what I need to.
Manage the chaos
Like stress, you can’t eliminate chaos completely. In an ideal world, you’d spend your whole day doing the things you love (for me it’s training workshop design) but most of us have to mix it in with admin, meetings, emails etc. So if you have a daily routine and a planning system , it’s much easier to get stuff done, even in the midst of a chaotic day. After all, you work with other human beings who, like you, are dealing with their own chaos. It’s about finding mechanisms to manage the chaos in such a way that it doesn’t stifle creativity and dampen enthusiasm.
I very often do my best work in the midst of chaos – organised chaos – and that, as I said, I’m good with.
Do you need some help focusing your chaos?
We have got a few places left on the October Is It That Time Already? worksession. It’s a highly practical session, giving you some simple steps you can implement the minute you leave. Based around Stephen R. Covey’s Time Matrix® it may just be what you need to focus your attention and get clear on what’s truly important.
Book now get the Early Bird fee of £250. There’s no time like the present!
First time here? Thank you for reading my blog. This is Day 13 of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.
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