We’re all running busy lives.
Or are our busy lives running us?
For me, it’s a little bit of both. Or a lot of both!
These are some changes that I’ve made over the course of the past 6 months that have made the biggest difference for me. I didn’t come up with any of these myself, of course. And I haven’t been perfect with any of them.
With that said, these slight changes have had noticeable impact on my work and my bottom line. I hope they do the same for you!
Put teams together, and quickly.
Great teams can be crucial to the success of a project. We all know that.
However, something I didn’t realize is that running a successful team doesn’t necessarily mean that it should take forever to build.
I used to take my sweet time building teams around projects. The thought was that I needed to find the best people. To do that I thought I needed to really search through someone’s background searching for relevant experience and a highly polished skillset. You know, traditional interview protocol.
But I realized something wrong with that approach.
I had put too much time and effort into the search, when that wasn’t the most important thing. The most important thing when bringing on a new person is that you’re ready for that new person.
It’s not a perfect system, but now I intentionally think about what each person needs to know to get started on a project. Then I take time every week to map out the minimum of what each team member needs to accomplish that week.
That gives anyone a chance to be useful. If they prove not to be useful, then that’s where the next point comes in.
Let people go from teams, and quickly.
Not every fit is the right fit.
If that’s the case, then be unafraid to let people move on. But only after you work your tail off to make it work. That’s key. Sometimes I bring people onto teams thinking they’d be perfect for one role, then realize that I was wrong.
So we communicate, shift the role a bit, and then map out the next few steps.
But when that doesn’t work, it’s best to let them go.
This saves you a ton of time and energy down the road.
Quit email. (Almost.)
Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you that I’m horrible with email.
That’s kind of intentional. Well, it is now, at least! After reading the 4 Hour Work Week, I’ve changed the way I use email. It’s helped me a ton.
Here’s the simple rule: email is not for team communication.
All of my teams operate on Slack, which is a team communication platform. Those messages and posts go straight to me, and I answer them when I get them.
Email, on the other hand, is for external communication. It’s for clients, customers, and other communication with “the outside world.”
Now I’m not ruled by my inbox. It’s not the first thing I think about anymore. It’s not the last thing I think about anymore. Now, it’s just a thing to think about when I want to think about it.
My inbox doesn’t rule my life. Yay!
Tried to consistently—and proactively—communicate.
This is the newest addition to my work life.
Up to this point, I’ve only communicated with others when I needed to communicate. But I’ve learned a tough lesson with this approach.
When we need to do something, then it’s probably too late.
Interestingly, only communicating when I needed to communicate caused me a lot of stress. Maybe I was running late on a commitment. Having to communicate that was stressful. So I’d procrastinate and hide away. Which caused stress for everyone.
What I’ve tried to start doing is to communicate on a regular basis with folks, regardless of whether the news is good or bad.
Not only do people appreciate my openness, but they also feel able to share news with me too.
Consistent, proactive communication calms the nerves so we can really get stuff done.
Forgotten about the weekend. (Let me explain.)
I’ve forgotten about the weekend. I’ve also forgotten about normal work hours. And calendars.
When I thought too much about those things, I’d naturally constrict my work. I’d look at the clock and think, “Now is the time I should be working.” Or, “Now is not the time I should be working.”
This works both ways.
I’d look at the clock and think, “Now is the time I should be relaxing and playing with friends.” Or, “Now is not the time to be relaxing and playing with friends.”
Now that I don’t have a real concept of what a weekend is, I don’t feel guilty for enjoying an extra long lunch with a friend on a Tuesday. I don’t think about work on a Saturday taboo or the equivalent of martyrdom.
Granted, my lifestyle is not common.
I don’t have any responsibilities other than family, friends, and business ventures. I don’t have a standard job in which weekends are—and should be—a big deal.
But if you have the flexibility, then use it to your advantage.
Your cortisol levels will thank you for it.
I’ve got one short note on this that I think is massively important.
You’re not going to be perfect. And just because I wrote this piece, it was published, and it magically floated through the Internet to find you doesn’t mean that I’m perfect either.
If you’re tough on yourself for not being more productive, then that’s fine. I empathize. I’m a bastard to myself.
But there’s a difference between holding yourself to high standards and being unrealistic.
One is worthwhile, the other is not.
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Photo: Flickr/Muneef Hameed