Sunday, September 06, 2015

Transform Your Effectiveness: Tying Up Loose Ends (4/4)

It’s been four weeks since the first post in this series. I struggled to decide which to start with between ‘Eating Healthy’ and ‘Planning’, but chose ‘Eating Healthy’ after concluding the best plans cannot be executed by a sick body. I then shared in the third post how the best plans don’t amount to anything if they’re not excellently executed.

In closing the series today, I intend to tie up some loose ends and answer some of the questions I was asked. For readers who seek a more comprehensive discourse, I strongly recommend the following two books: ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey, and ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen.


Why ‘effectiveness’, instead of ‘efficiency’ or ‘productivity’? These words are similar, but mean slightly different things. Productivity and efficiency define the production of results with minimal waste, but do not measure if these results are the intended ones; effectiveness does. I have spent days analysing data, identifying patterns, and drawing conclusions – to later find that I misunderstood the original requests or business needs. I was productive and probably efficient, but was I effective? No.

I chose ‘effectiveness’ because it incorporates an understanding and alignment of what is really important. Alignment, a clear understanding of the objectives, is really important in the context of work.

I hate my job. Why should I try to be effective at something I hate? I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. In my experience, “I hate my job” can mean anything from “I don’t like my current manager” to “I’ll go mad if I have to step in that office tomorrow”. Wherever your position is on this continuum, I recommend you find an experienced mentor to speak with.

While I think every job offers an opportunity to learn something, I also believe life is too short to spend too much time unhappy. In a situation where I hate my job and have a safety net to fall back on, I would probably turn my energies towards ‘effectively’ starting a small business, or an ‘effective’ job search. Without the safety net, things would definitely be different – but I can’t say exactly how.

How do I apply weekly planning in an environment that changes rapidly? Short answer – same way I described in the second post.

I think the world of work today is paced much faster than it ever was. Day to day tasks and activities can change very quickly to meet up with competition or stay ahead, and frontline jobs bear the brunt of these changes. However, while specific tasks and activities may change rapidly – the overall objective often stays the same: every business wants to generate value sustainably now and in the future.

Frequent alignment sessions are very important in these settings. You want to be checking in regularly with your boss that you’re working on the things important to the business. This way, when things change – you’re very clear what needs to get dropped and what needs to get prioritized. Weekly planning still fits in!

How frequently should I check email? It depends. An assistant to a busy executive may live by his inbox while an IT Project Manager may be able to go for hours without checking her email. Emails convey important information, but if care is not taken – they can quickly become a black hole that sucks every second of every day. Where possible, I would recommend to check email infrequently – at predetermined times fitted around the other important things you have to do. David Allen posits an excellent framework for dealing with emails and other communication in Getting Things Done. I strongly recommend his framework.



That’s all.

I hope this helped someone out there. It’s sometimes frustrating how much I have to leave out in a bid to make these posts very concise so they get read by more people. Many times I have to leave a lot unsaid and hope that readers fill in the gaps by themselves. If you’d like to discuss any of these concepts more comprehensively, shoot me an email and I’ll be glad to engage!

Cheers to the new week.


Post 1 - Eat Healthy.
Post 2 - Thirty Minutes to Rule Them All.
Post 3 - Just Do It.
Post 4 - You're here already :.

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