Leaf blowers, those noisy, smelly little gadgets that create dust storms and spread leaves, grass and other debris high into the air and just about anywhere that the wind gust is not directed... The thing is, you clean one spot only to make a mess in another spot. If you're in the lawn business, the leaf blower serves an important purpose but then there's the "proverbial leaf blower". This leaf blower is attributed to those who shuffle things around, often out of sight, in hopes they'll just go away. However, nothing that has mass or purpose will simply go away. Worse still, the proverbial leaf blower is used by a lot of business folks and it's not doing anyone any good.
I'm not talking about procrastination though it's closely related. The leaf blower is not putting things off; he is deliberately playing the out of sight out of mind game. Are you a leaf blower? Chances are you're a leaf blower if the following items describe you:
- I often find reminder notes for incomplete tasks.
- I'm often reminded by others that I haven't completed tasks that I'd agreed to perform.
- I ask the same questions over and over, to the point where my colleagues are visibly frustrated.
- I'm not able to prepare, maintain and execute a list of priorities.
The bad news is there are a lot of leaf blowers out there. The good news is that, while you may never be able to lock the blower up in the shed, you can manage this. That is, if you choose not to hide it. A few suggestions.
- GRAND CENTRAL (GC)- create ONE place where you can catalogue your ideas, notes, tasks, etc. This is a directory; not every bit of associated information will be kept here. It's a single place where the major items on your plate can be viewed at once. It can be electronic, paper, a white board, whatever WORKS BEST FOR YOU! Choose something that you know you WILL use and CAN use faithfully.
- BE FAITHFUL- success is predicated on populating the GC, EACH time something is added to your plate. Updating the GC when changes occur that can impact other items is also essential (e.g. changes in priority, resource use, etc.).
- ORGANIZE- speaking of Grand Central (Station), there are 45 track platforms and a train arrives every 58 seconds during peak times.(1) Can you imagine what a nightmare it would be if they weren't organized? Keeping your GC operational requires the same diligence and that is all about design. The design of your GC is up to you but it must be constructed in a fashion that is organized to provide useful information to you at a glance. First and foremost, your GC must be easy to use and easy to interpret. Anything less and you'll be blowing leaves again before you know it.
- PRIORITIZE- as a leaf blower you know you've had a problem with setting priorities. Your GC must include a place to record the priority of every entry. When an item is recorded on the GC you must establish its' priority and record it, NO EXCEPTIONS!
- REVIEW DAI LY- your GC can and will change the way you manage your time, priorities and business IF you use it. We already talked about updating it EVERY time something is added to your plate. Step two, check it DAILY, preferably at the start of your day. Think of it as checking messages or reading that first batch of morning e-mail. It helps to set the stage for the day ahead.
- SHARE- if you work alone, your GC is for your eyes only. If you do not, carefully consider who else can benefit from sharing your efforts. There's a potentially greater benefit if you share with the right folks.
If you are a leaf blower I hope this helps. If you are not, maybe you can share it with someone who is.