Leveraging Invisible Assets
In helping leaders become more agile I encourage them to see invisible assets they can leverage to evolve their agile productivity:
When we look at our busy day, week or month, it's easy to get overwhelmed by what we have coming up with a "how the heck am I going to get all this done?" mindset. But, in juggling a wide range of activities, when I frequently experience that, it always turns out fine - I discover a lot more wiggle room in how my schedule unfolds than I could ever imagine. It's partly because there is always invisible and unexpected spare time in how my jam packed calendar unfolds:
- I arrive early for meetings and conference calls because I allowed plenty of contingency time and got lucky that it took me less time than I allowed (partly because I always allow plenty as part of my commitment to move mountains to never be late).
- I find that big projects take less time than the personal work time I blocked out in my calendar (partly because I always try to "front-end" complex projects and tasks, especially those painful ones I am prone to procrastinate on - when I eventually get around to the time I have set aside for them or I come down to the wire, just-in-time, I find that my mind is magically more prepared than I could ever have imagined).
- I find that dead time is more productive than ever, processing in parallel when I am getting from one place to another - driving between home and work in the morning and evening (I have found various perfectly safe ways to capture my thoughts, audibly via my smart phone for instance) and, in similar ways, getting between one meeting and another, and one thing and another in the flow of my day.
- I am amazed at the power of my mind, especially when I front-end things and use the spare time/parallel time which presents itself, to figure things out subconsciously. I have learned how to leverage that, in particular with The Power of Visual Thinking, which allows me to "see" a problem in my mind's eye. That allows my subconscious mind to keep working on it in the background and be more prepared when I put aside time to work on it in the foreground.
The 1% Solution
When we look at our personal productivity we can often dream of a big breakthrough, to being so much more organized with much more time to do the important work of long term strategy not just the urgent work of short term operational needs. We might look for a wholesale change in our system or approach, but the trouble is that these attempts often get hijacked by our shortage of time and bandwidth to implement them properly in a lasting way, and before long we are right back where we started. We are surrounded by 1% opportunities for improvement (1% of a 10 hour day is 6 minutes) but they often remain invisible to us in the crazy flow of our normal day. When you go looking for them more consciously, you will make them visible. When you compound and reinvest, you will soon achieve the breakthrough you desire. I am constantly looking for 1% solutions to streamline my personal productivity.
Look around at how well the wall space is being used, which is often one of the most under-utilized assets in your business - the walls seems to have become invisible as an asset we can leverage. What if your walls could talk with more real-time, on-line-all-the-time information about your business, your role and what's on your plate? My office is like my command center, with pin-boards, white-boards, wall calendars and flip-chart easels letting me fully leverage the wall-space and more. I have one of those cork-strips at the top around the full perimeter of my walls, so I can pin anything up anywhere. It's not clutter when everything has a place and is in a place. When I have a big project come along (like writing a book), I am happy to let it get cluttered so I can fully immerse myself in it, like a war room. I love the flexibility this gives me with my workspace.
Does your calendar make visible the 5th weeks? In my experience, these 5th weeks remain invisible for many people. Not for me. Through 2015 already, with my annual calendar on my wall mentioned above, and very soon I'll be doing the same with a 2016 calendar and also in my electronic calendar, I have made visible the 5th weeks. They are a precious asset. For many people they just blend in invisibly as just another ordinary week, nothing special.
Make visible these invisible assets and leverage them to evolve your agile productivity. You'll be ahead of the crowd.
Contributed by Mike Richardson of Agility Consulting