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GTD in fast moving REactive situations

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  • GTD in fast moving REactive situations

    I have been using GTD since the beginning of the year. Before then I based my work on the Covey method of attempting to be PROactive as often as possible, rather than REactive.

    My problem is that my business is highly REactive and fast moving; I have any number of great ideas and projects (many, alas, somedayed) which could transform my work if only I could get to them. My business (which I do own and employ around 10 people in) is a difficult one to delegate; many of the important customer relationships are with me and a lot of the technical and commercial information - to say nothing of many years of experience - is in my own head.

    GTD has been invaluable - a watershed in my career - in better handling the myriad of interruptions, phone calls, opportunities, "could-you-justs" and appointments that make up a day. My runway is clearer than it has ever been and I will be eternally grateful to DA just for this. And yet... I still struggle to find the time to deal with the PROactive work - the projects which, if completed, will advance my business and move me into another gear. In GTD terms, I suppose, I am struggling to get off the runway.

    I recognise that this problem arises very much from the business that I have chosen to operate in, but does anyone else recognise or have you succeeded against this problem?

    How did it work out for you? Do you have any advice?
    Last edited by Howard; 04-17-2007, 12:11 PM.

  • #2
    Hi Howard. Sounds like you're a bottleneck, and that this is keeping you busy with the day-to-day, and not allowing the important higher-level thinking you mention. It's ironic, because GTD often frees up our minds for just that kind of thing - the someday/maybes and ideas that could transform your business.

    Have you looked at the writing on delegating? I wonder if you can get more of the work off your own plate (including transferring some of that knowledge only you have) to make time for the higher level thinking...

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm experimenting with self-development; kind of what you're seeking time for. When I used Next Actions to move it through the week I just ended up with nothing done in this area. Higher priority (runway business tasks) always pushed my self-development tasks off. Then I made a whole day - Friday - devoted to self-development. Failed again because of meeting requests from valued customers or the boss. Now I'm doing it on Saturday. Half a day event. It gives me time to read and plan self-development.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by cornell View Post
        Have you looked at the writing on delegating? I wonder if you can get more of the work off your own plate (including transferring some of that knowledge only you have) to make time for the higher level thinking...
        Hi Matthew

        Thanks for the response.

        Delegation is an art which, it seems to me, is learned and then often unlearned as staff and situations change; functions which had been entrusted to others are reclaimed by the delegator and then end up having to be assigned all over again.

        Which writing on delegating are you referring to? I'd like to read it.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Borisoff View Post
          Then I made a whole day - Friday - devoted to self-development. Failed again because of meeting requests from valued customers or the boss. Now I'm doing it on Saturday. Half a day event. It gives me time to read and plan self-development.
          And this is the choice isn't it?

          How much extra time are we prepared to work to address our PROactive projects? I know that I work damned hard and above average hours. I've done plenty of work at weekends and evenings in the past, and have often found it counterproductive, nearly leading to burn-out.

          GTD seems to offer an opportunity to be productive and PROactive without the burnout risk. I'd like to know how people have achieved this.
          Last edited by Howard; 04-15-2007, 10:35 AM.

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          • #6
            You have to make the time. Simply don't allow interruptions. Let the phone go to voice mail, don't look at email, and if someone enters your office, tell them that you're in the middle of something and can they please come back in half an hour?

            It is difficult.

            Comment


            • #7
              Something to think about: if everything is in your head, what happens if you get sick? Or go on vacation? Or get injured in a car accident? Or decide you just don't want to work so hard any more? What happens if the business grows to the point where you simply can't manage everything?

              Difficult as delegation can be, it's really essential if the business is going to grow beyond one person's span of control.

              On the other hand, as the business owner, you have control over your own destiny. While you wouldn't want to dump everything on your employees and vanish for a week, you can certainly grab an hour or two every week or so. How? You say to your most trusted person, "I need to spend an hour or two doing some strategic thinking. Please mind the store until I get back." And then you leave. Don't take a laptop or a cell phone, just a pad and a pen. Go to a coffee shop or a park, and get to work.

              When you get back, and this is the important part, resist the temptation to micromanage everything that happened in your absence. If there was information that your second-in-command needed and didn't have, write it down for the next time. If they handled something well, congratulate them, even if it wasn't exactly how you would have done it. If they handled something poorly, gently suggest how it might have been done better.

              If you make this kind of break a habit, you'll find that not only does your business benefit from the higher level thinking you're able to do, but your staff benefits from the added responsibility. You may find that they're able to do more on their own even when you are there, which frees you to do even more higher level stuff.

              Good luck!

              Katherine

              Comment


              • #8
                Stuck on a clear runway, unable to take off

                Originally posted by kewms View Post
                Difficult as delegation can be, it's really essential if the business is going to grow beyond one person's span of control.
                Thankyou Katherine for a very thoughtful post.

                Off course, what you say is absolutely right - in fact, I remember saying the same sort of thing to colleagues. But isn't it harder to do when it's yourself?

                I'm realising that though a clear runway is essential to a "takeoff", it does not automatically result in one. A risk is that, as you become more efficient, the system around you can rush in to fill the vacuum. You know...the boss has a bit more time on his hands - I can ask him to help me out etc, etc. Also, it can feel a little uncomfortable actually being in a position to take off to the next level (for a change) and you have to make the mental effort to do so; tell yourself it is possible and, yes, you are entitled to do it.

                The key point, that comes through to me in this thread, is that the Weekly Review offers a structured opportunity to apply what you folks are all saying. The opportunity should be seized and the time should be respected - most of all by the person doing the review. Ultimately, the creative, PROactive work which results should lead to the improved working environment I'm seeking.

                I feel like I'm stating the obvious, but in a funny way, GTD is a big statement of the obvious.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Howard View Post
                  Off course, what you say is absolutely right - in fact, I remember saying the same sort of thing to colleagues. But isn't it harder to do when it's yourself?
                  Well, yes. (blushing, looking at shoes)

                  That's why I suggest starting small, with only an hour or two of absence. When the business does not actually fall apart in that time -- which it almost certainly won't -- it builds both your confidence and your staff's. From tiny acorns, etc.

                  Katherine

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                  • #10
                    Listen to recent David Allen's interview with Tim Braheem.

                    Originally posted by kewms View Post
                    Difficult as delegation can be, it's really essential if the business is going to grow beyond one person's span of control.
                    Listen to recent David Allen's interview with Tim Braheem. Tim describes the process of preparing his company to survive his long vacation in Italy.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Urgent vs. Important

                      Something I recently came across was a quote from "10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management" by Hyrum W. Smith. We all know about the urgent taking over the important but not urgent, but he suggests that we have to create some urgency in those important things that we never get round to.

                      It seems obvious, but I'm trying to work through this myself by looking at it from 2 points of view:-

                      1) everything that is normally urgent I'd do straight away. But especially with lots of urgents to react to, you can't do them all at once, therefore they are time managed to some extent anyway - you decide which to attend to first, second, etc.

                      Also, if you were in a 2 hour meeting, that's time you can't spend on urgent reactive things ... and the world doesn't fall apart.

                      Therefore I must be able to put a chunk of time aside to be able to work on something important rather than urgent, and then get back to the reactive parts of the job. Do that regularly enough and you start to make some real progress on the things that will have the biggest long term impact. Which brings me to ...

                      2) Quantify the benefits and impact of doing the important (usually longer term) jobs or projects. It strikes me that if I knew by doing xyz, which I'd have to fit in around the reactive part of my job, I could earn an extra $100k this year, then somehow I'd find a way of achieving it.

                      Why not take one of your projects and spend an hour thinking about the future date when you've completed it. What does your world look like now? What are the benefits? How much better is your life or work? etc.

                      As you begin to realise the benefits of achieving this project, it starts to take on a sense of urgency that gets you going.

                      The biggest barrier to starting the important but not urgent projects is that you don't see it from the end point when it's completed, and therefore don't see ALL the benefits you're going to get by doing it.

                      As I said at the start, I'm only just beginning to grasp and do this for myself, but it was a bit of an a-ha moment for me.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Reading Recommendation

                        "Leadership and the One Minute Manager" by Blanchard, Zigarmi and Zigarmi puts forth an excellent framework for delegating. It deals not just with delegating but developing your employees for delegation. You change your management style to match the employee's development level in agreement with the employee. Delegation requires communication about the Goal, the Measure - how you know the job is being done, and the Standard- what constitutes good performance on the goal. It's a quick read and I'd recommend it.

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                        • #13
                          Coming from the perspective of a manager and a former self-employed dude, I have learned that the issue that lays at the heart of delegation is trust. Do we trust the people in our employ to successfully complete the assigned task?

                          Most of the time, that answer is no.

                          How you go about changing that answer to a yes is up to you. One of my favorite reads is the "E-Myth" which covers this quite well...albeit quite anally for my style.

                          hak

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                          • #14
                            But what does GTD say about all this...

                            Some really good material in this thread. I'm grateful to you all.

                            The key themes that are coming through are:

                            a) Good delegation, and

                            b) Taking time out to be creatively PROactive.

                            "Leadership & The One Minute Manager" is a classic; "The E-Myth" is definately worth reading if you run a small business - implementing replicatable systems and processes can transform a business; I like the sound of the "10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management" - visualising the benefits of important vs. urgent should impel you towards a more proactive approach; Then, Katherine has written a beautiful little piece about gently passing the reins to the team (Katherine, if you haven't already, you really should write your own book).

                            The thing is I, and I'm sure many others, are familiar with a lot of these concepts and yet still fall down too much on the implementation. Every day we go to work with the best of intentions but too often fail to realise them - the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

                            How have people found that GTD has actually helped them to do what they want to do, rather that what they feel they have to do? I'd like to hear about your experiences.
                            Last edited by Howard; 04-19-2007, 01:44 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Howard,
                              I keep coming back to your reluctance to delegate.

                              Perhaps there are trust issues with your staff. Are you sure you've got the right people in place?

                              I've always found that if you have confidence in your staff and their abilities, delegation comes easily. Learn to trust them and add more responsibility; you'll also discover another plus - you can catch them doing something good and praise them. A win-win situation!

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