Murphy was an Optimist

October 1, 2007

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I have a good friend who loves being the hero in every situation. He’s constantly offering to help other people. The only trouble is, he insists on foolishly ignoring the advice of Murphy.

Therefore, more often than not, it puts him in the place of over promising and under delivering. He proves time and again that to ignore the wisdom of Murphy is go from hero to villain in no time flat! Here’s why:



Although I’m very much a “glass half full” kind of a guy, I’ve learned that by operating under the assumption that “If things can go wrong, they will!” I’m more likely to think through the, “what can go wrong” part, and develop a plan “B” or “C” to compensate.I’ve learned that Murphy’s favorite strategy is the blind side, and optimists are especially vulnerable.

Trust me, it’s great to be “Jelly side up” kind of people in all cases except project planning and time budgeting. If we make a regular practice of constantly planning for the best case scenario, we’re going to get hosed in a hurry.

So what are some strategies to keep Murphy at bay?

  • Brainstorm, try to anticipate ALL the kinds of things that can go wrong, then try to think of alternative ways to handle those situations. You can get a mental picture of all the moving parts by pretending to be a journalist covering the event. Try to answer the questions, who, what, when, where, why, & how.
  • Prioritize by when you should get started. If you wait to start a project until the day it’s due … you’re just begging Murphy to through you a curve ball!
  • Pad your time. If you think it will take three days to accomplish, let everyone know it will take five. Now keep in mind, this strategy shouldn’t be an excuse to slack off. If you take that approach, you’ll be back to under delivering in a hurry.

    Did you just have a deja vu moment? No, this article was originally posted July 16, 2007 and has now been re-released with audio.

    A Recipe for Getting More Done 3: Efficient File Systems

    September 24, 2007

    icon for podpress  A Recipe for Getting More Done 3: File Systems [13:07m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


    On average, Inefficiencies rob 20% of our day.

    The four ingredients taught in this series are designed to help get that 20% back!

    Ingredient number 2: file systems, is a great way to start getting some of that 20% back.Office workers spend about 2 hours per day looking for stuff.

    It’s not that the “stuff” is always lost. That’s just the time it takes to retrieve the information we’re looking for.My goal has always been to halve the amount of time required to retrieve information – thereby saving about an hour per day!

    Read more

    How to Fold a Shirt … I Think? It’s More Like Shirt Oragami.

    September 8, 2007


    I watched this 5 times, and still can’t do it!

    Maybe something is lost in the translation (It’s in Japenese)

    The Case of the Missing Post-it Note

    August 30, 2007

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    missing-post-it-final.jpgSeveral years back, before becoming a productivity trainer, I worked in a sea of cubicles like so many of the rest of you. One day my manager gave me a post-it note with the name and phone number of customer I was to call to “resolve an issue.”

    Now, this particular “issue” was one of those less-than-fun tasks, that I was-less-than thrilled about handling. So my first thought was to quickly postpone the call until the next day. I’ve learned better since then (see when you’d rather not).

    So I placed the post-it on my computer monitor to remind me to make the call the next day. Well, that day came and went, and no call was made. The day after that, I knew I’d better call that customer, So in an attempt to bump it up in priority, I moved it from the computer monitor to my phone.

    That strategy proved so effective that a whole other day came and went with no call being made. Adjusting its priority again, I moved it to my palm pilot (yes, I had the original palm pilot of the late 90’s).

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    “Notes … Copious, F!%king Notes!”

    August 24, 2007

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    23232.jpgSeveral years back, while in a business meeting my boss at the time (a rather intense man), the tension in the room became quite thick as the boss admonished everyone to, “Stop taking notes, and start paying attention to everything I’m saying” … he further added, “You can’t pay attention and take notes at the same time!”

    Not two minutes later, he walked over to where I was sitting and quite sternly explained, “Not you, you’re their manager … you need to be taking notes … copious, f**king notes!!”

    To this day I giggle every time I think about that moment, for two reasons: First, because my boss has such strong opinions on the matter. Second, because I’m sure I was witness to the first time in history the word “copious” and the “F” bomb where ever used in the same sentence.

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