procrastination…yes, I am the queen

IMG_0166 I’m an uber procrastinator.  If there was an award for procrastination, I would quite possibly win it (as long as I didn’t have to submit some kind of nominations,  because I probably would procrastinate on that).  Most of the time I need some kind of hot rod up… well…you know… to get me moving. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not lazy.  No.  I don’t lie in bed procrastinating,  I just jump from task to task like some crazy frog person until time runs out and …BUZZZ…time is up and I fall into bed exhausted after another day of doing…well…everything but nothing at the same time. Like today, I decided that I was going to do some writing tonight.  I have heaps of ideas spilling over in my brain for the blog,  posts which are going to be AWESOME (if I ever actually got them on paper).  My husband is out,  kids in bed…perfect.  And I know I LOVE writing.  I always feel great after I have splurged some of the ideas out of my never quiet brain.  But lets take a little look at what I have actually done so far…

  • tidy up the kitchen
  • Washed the dog (to be fair, he was REALLY dirty)
  • Made some tea
  • Made a snack
  • Started a clothes wash
  • Vaccumed
  • Read my facebook
  • checked my email
  • started sorting some paperwork…

Seriously,  is something wrong with me?  Why can’t I focus on something I know that I really want to do? I think this might fall under the category of “mindfulness”,  being able to focus on one thing at a time.  Really giving that thing your attention, your full attention.   There is also something more daunting about starting something big, or more important, and far easier to try to tick the boxes with some little things instead.  And, it’s hard to focus on the important things when the little every day things are niggling at you. OK..so lets start this again.  I’m writing a list,  oh boy do I love a good list…a list of things that actually really need to be done this evening.  And I’m prioritising writing, so it’s going to be the first thing that I do.   I’m putting a timer on. 30mins.  That’s it, whatever I can punch out in 30min and then I will stop. IMG_0165 Wait…look at that….I’m nearly done already.  That wasn’t so hard.  I feel great now.  Why did I faff around so much in the first place?   Now, what is next on the list.   Tidy out the study cupboard?  hmm… I’ll just go make a cup of tea first… claire2

Things I’ve learnt from bad bad bosses…starting with “Teflon”

This post is the first in a series of posts I hope to do , sharing some of the good and bad manager experiences I have had over the years.     I’ve had the pleasure of working with some fantastic leaders who have been paramount in my success. But recently I’ve also come to appreciate how the bad Managers I have worked for also taught me a lot and could also be credited for some serious growth I’ve made in business.     That said, working for these Managers was not fun, it was frustrating, de-motivating and hard.   I found myself often wishing that my circumstances were different (why did I have to deal with this crappy manager when other people had great managers and seemed to be going onto better things) and crying in the toilets was not unusual for me (I know, not good form, but sometimes you just have to let it out)

Teflon is great for pans but terrible for managers.

When I look back, one of the most significant manager stories comes from several years working under a leader whom we nicknamed “Teflon”. She earnt this name because nothing would “stick” to her. She delegated with such success that she literally did nothing herself.   When I approached her with challenges in my team she would simply say “what do you think needs to happen” and when I was at a loss, she just left me to figure it out. When I did create solutions which needed her support, she failed to support them across the leadership teams and many projects fell to nothing under her leadership.   Not only that but she was dis-engaged and disconnected from what was happening in our business, she was literally absent from the office a lot and would not return phone calls or emails.

I was managing a team of my own at the time, through times of change and pressure. They expected my action and delivery, yet I felt stunted and unable to drive the things required. I just wanted to curl into a ball and give up.

Bring in the cavalry…

But I wasn’t willing to give up…just yet… So I started talking to the other managers in our team and I soon realised I wasn’t the only one in this situation, all my colleagues under the same leader were suffering the same challenges and frustrations. So we united, we collaborated and we promised to support each other. We set up regular meetings across our manager team (yep, without our leader, I’m sure we probably invited her but …surprise…she didn’t come). We talked about our challenges and helped each other figure them out. We started to understand each persons unique expertise and were able to call on different team members to help with certain issues.  We made strategies, plans and we implemented them successfully by working around our leader.

And we laughed…oh how we laughed…

In coming together as a team, we started to feel like “we got this” and our perspective on the situation started to change.   We were able to laugh at the circumstances and find humour in the challenges we faced.

Those were some of the toughest years in my career and yet I still look back at them as also some of the best years of my career.   I learnt so much from those around me, I was forced to grow tremendously as a leader and became far more self sufficient. And now, in the new age of social technologies, I realise that many of the skills we used, around collaboration, sharing of expertise across silo’s and not relying on heirachy, are becoming the new way of working and my previous experience has opened me up to see the possibilities it holds.

So, thank you “Teflon” for forcing me to look deeper and in doing so, working with some of the most amazing people I have been able to learn from and helping shape the person that I have become today.

What strengths does your current Manager bring out in you? what can you learn from your experience …even if that experience may not feel ideal today?

 

 

Email…a necessary evil of the modern workplace…or is it?

Back to work today and quite frankly, it’s not a great first impression. My inbox is overwhelmed with emails, but the scary part is how many of them are irrelevant or wasteful. Started off feeling frustrated this morning but as I plough through all the emails getting more annoyed at each one, I cheer myself up by remembering, that in the future workplace,  emails may not even exist.

Getting out of the inbox …

when someone first suggested a world without email to me, I couldn’t visualise it.  Email is such an integral part of the modern workplace that it is hard to imagine not starting working and opening up email as the first action of the day. But as I’ve become more and more immersed in the social world, now I can see it. i can see a world of collaboration and integration that happens in the public sphere and in small online groups. The need for individual emailing will be come less and less, till eventually it is no longer required.   Hard to imagine, right?  but it will happen…

In the meantime (sigh)…we’re going to be drowning in our emails for some time yet….  so I have to put on my super organisation hat, and start ploughing away at this email. I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to my email and I love to have my inbox empty, which is a nearly impossible task.  I’ve had to train myself to get out of the inbox, as I could easily spend my whole day doing nothing but emails.  Now I try to have more scheduled email checks.  First thing in the morning (bit of multi-tasking over brekky to make sure the sky didn’t fall down while I was sleeping),  30min when I first start work,  then 10min checks between meetings.  I literally set the timer on some days to ensure I don’t get sucked into the email vortex.   Since I’ve been on a break, today I’ve set aside an hour… and this is is the plan…

Delete delete delete

I remember someone telling me that after a 3 week holiday once.  They decided not to go through all their email.  They just deleted it all.  ALL OF IT.  They figured,  if it was urgent or important, at some point someone would come back to them.  Sure, they had one or two people who were a little annoyed at having to repeat requests, but overall,  mostly no one noticed.

Whilst I would love to just press delete,  I can’t bring myself to do it.  So the first thing I do, is run through all the email subjects and delete anything that doesn’t look urgent or important.   After holidays is a great time to do a bit of a purge on newsletters subscriptions.  I can’t believe how many I get,  you don’t really notice until you leave them to sporn and grow over a week.  Ekk…time for some “unsubscribing” action.   Ah, that feels better.

Action or File

If I open an email,  I try to either action it immediately,  or if I can’t action straight away…I file it into a folder and write down the action or next step required before I can go back to it.   That way, my inbox can stay clean, it is easier to see what is new and what still needs my action.

Complete actions NOT using email

Wherever possible, I also try to respond to requests using other mechanisms other than email.   Go to someone’s profile and post something on their wall,  send an instant message,  post something in a forum,   pick up the phone,  write it down as an action for next time I’m in a meeting with the person.    That way, I’m not contributing to someone elses email bog, as I try to clean up my email bog.

OK time is up…I’ve done what I can.  It’s a boring but necessary evil of the modern workplace, but I can see a future which looks different, and that is exciting.