October 30, 2007
It’s a proven fact, batchers get more done then non-batchers! So just what is a “batcher”? Ok it’s just a fun word I use to refer to people who group (batch) similar activities together to be more efficient. It’s like the art of killing two birds with one stone (Please note: No birds were harmed during the writing of this post!).
Batching is mastering the art of killing 2 birds with 1 stone.
October 24, 2007
If you have opinions about Oprah, the Cubs, or Vegans you’ll probably enjoy this article!
1. Criticize from the stands
I was at a dinner party recently when Oprah Winfrey became the topic of conversation. Within ten seconds, like a quick volley of machine gun fire, I heard, “I hate her”… “I don’t think she gives enough of her money to charity” … and two others quickly agreed “me too!” They pounced on Oprah faster than sharks on a cramping swimmer!
Now, I’m no die hard fan of the Oprah show, but I do enjoy it occasionally. However, what I was hearing from my fellow dinner companions was appalling. I couldn’t help but remind everybody that Oprah’s money is HER money! She could keep all of it if she wants to – she earned it! Besides, how do we really know how much money Oprah gives to charity anyways?
Here’s a better question, what the hell had my fellow dinner mates done for charity? My guess, not as much as Oprah!
To criticize the charitable deeds of others is always a jackass move; to do it from the sidelines makes it even worse.
October 17, 2007
1. Neglect writing it down.
Unfortunately, many great ideas die mere seconds after they’re conceived simply because they were never captured in the first place. This is understandable when we consider how our brains generate creative ideas.
Creativity begins in the right hemisphere of the brain. The right brain becomes most active when we’re engaged in activities that require spatial (No, that’s not a reference to SNL’s Church Lady) perception. These activities include walking, cleaning, showering, exercising, driving, mowing the yard, etc. That means the creative juices really start flowing at the most inconvenient times to write stuff down.
For instance, I always think of the best ideas (if I do say so myself) while driving to or from work. That’s an inconvenient time to try witting things down. That being the case, the simplest solution I’ve found for capturing ideas while driving is using my mobile phone to leave myself a message about the idea. Since I have a wireless headset and voice dialing, it’s quick, easy, and safe. Yes, calling yourself is kind of silly, but it works!
2. Over aggressive self-editing.
Self editing is an admirable quality, but one that requires balance. How many inventions do you suppose don’t exist today, because the would-be inventor prematurely gave up on pursuing his/her idea? Don’t let self doubt or fear of failure keep you from exploring your great ideas. Like the old expression states, “It’s better to try and fail than to never try at all.”
Thomas Edison believed he failed his way to success. If it weren’t for him we’d never have had the light bulb, motion picture camera, or the phonograph (that was the original 8-track player, right?). But Edison didn’t get it right every time. Did you know he had an obsession with cement? He built all kinds of stuff using cement, including a piano! It was probably the piano movers who kept that idea from catching on. But it was Edison’s determination to keep testing his ideas that lead to the creation of over 1000 patents!
September 5, 2007
It’s funny what things stick with you in life. Back when I was in college, one of my professors somehow got onto the subject of constructive criticism and decided to teach the class the method he uses for offering “critical” advice to people.
It’s called the hamburger method, and here’s how it works:
When offering a critique, you begin with a constructive compliment on something the person does well (Otherwise known as the fluffy bun part). You then get to the meat of the matter, which of course is the constructive criticism part. Finally, you end with another constructive compliment (i.e. the other half of the fluffy bun).
Basically, you’re sandwiching the constructive criticism between two constructive compliments. In my experience, it’s been an extremely effective technique, largely due to its disarming effective. It helps people let down their guard, and receive the criticism without being as defensive.
Here’s an example:
“Hey Defensive Dave, I noticed you went out of your way to submit your expense report on time every month for the last three months – that’s great! I do, however, think it’s a bad idea to call Jane in accounting an “ignorant slut”. She may not be familiar with that old 1970’s Saturday Night Live Television skit and may be offended by your comment. But overall, your interaction with the team has been great – thanks for making the effort.”
September 4, 2007
Evaluating your activity in terms of the return on investment of your time and effort is a great strategy for getting more done.
Have you ever got some random song stuck in your head? I have. The other day I was walking through the supper market, and heard that U2 song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. It actually got me thinking about a conversation I once had with a friend.
A while back I was chatting with that friend about his work, and a realization he had just made. He was telling me that he’d recently slipped a bit in terms of organization by letting his desk get messy.