On mopping the floor

Sweep up. Mop the floor. Spend five minutes – five minutes! – a day putting things back in their places or working out where their places should be or throwing things out. It isn’t just that the reduction in friction will pay off many times over – it’s that the act of tidying will change you – slowly – into…

A sharper razor

A fresh, sharp razor is faster and easier to use, is less less painful, and gives a better and longer-lasting finish. As a result you need to shave less but you feel like shaving more, a virtuous cycle resulting from reduced friction and better, more satisfying results. What tools to you use to do your work? Is it time to…

Quick emails

There are two types of quick emails. There’s kind where you can handle it in five or ten minutes and… the job’s finished; someone else can get on with their job, so you avoid becoming a bottleneck; you can help someone out by being on-the-ball and courteous with a quick and efficient reply; you can hand it over to someone…

Supervision

What are you worried about? Why do you want this person or task supervised? How much time and effort will the recording and reporting cost the person being supervised? How much motivation and goodwill? Is the supervision actually going to happen the way you think? How much time and effort will reading the reports, checking the output, meeting with the…

Little jobs

There’s a lot to be said for batching – saving up similar jobs and then working through them efficiently in one go. But doing little jobs in free moments – in checking-the-news moments, social media moments, junky youtube moments – has its benefits too: Doing little jobs can act like a form of mental keepy-uppy, keeping your head in the…

The new possible

My sister (let’s call her Sharky) bought me a book for Christmas. Sharky lives in Argentina. She bought the book from a shop in the UK. I’m on holiday in a remote part of Indonesia. She bought the book, told me about it, and I was reading it, in less than ten minutes. This is the new reality – actually,…

Work: executive / decisive

These are tasks that you can finish and be done with – at least for a time.  An annual report, paying a bill, creating a resource, completing a job, trying up loose ends. Getting these things done closes down options, shuts down possibilities. We decide the scope of a project – and cut off the possibilities outside it so that…

Stability: Burke and incremental change

Steve Jobs is right about changing the world. And here’s Edmund Burke with a counterpoint – for society read ‘society’, but also, ‘family’, and ‘your organisation’: Society is indeed a contract. Subordinate contracts for objects of mere occasional interest may be dissolved at pleasure—but the state ought not to be considered as nothing better than a partnership agreement in a…

Backlog

We all know about the backlog: The work we never quite catch up on The to do list items that have fallen off the bottom of the page The promises large and small we haven’t quite managed to keep The dread of knowing that you could put in a hard day’s work today and still start tomorrow behind Backlogs are…

Clarity. Simplicity. Focus.

I’ve been reminded about the importance of clarity and simplicity by three books in the last week: Don’t Make Me Think, Steve Krug’s classic on web usability. Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath’s great (so far) guide to how to make ideas memorable and impactful. On Writing Well, William Zinsser’s brilliant and very funny book on… writing well.  They…