As a college prof, I still see students wrestling with this basic life function, putting off important work until it’s too late and then turning in sub-par work, if turning in work at all.
Posts Tagged ‘Productivity’
One of the blessings in my early leadership days was that I got my youth ministry start with Ft. Wayne Area Youth for Christ. At the time it was one of the largest chapters in the US and I would still argue that the 27 staff members I served with during those eight years comprised one of the most talented teams of youth workers I’ve seen.
The real blessing for me was the supervisory structure during the first three years in youth ministry (more on this another time). Each week my supervisor and I would go to lunch at the Venice and go over my schedule for the coming week…. and review the prior week’s schedule. Yes, I had to keep track of how I spent my week and the go over it with my supervisor. And it was this accountability that coached me on how to be productive.
One of the greatest productivity skills that I’ve learned in the last 10 years has been to put the “big rocks” into my weekly schedule first. Developed by Stephen Covey in his book, First Things First, the concept is that you need to put your most important activities into your weekly schedule first. These “big rocks” take up the most space, but also are large because they’re the most important functions you do.
And now it’s more important than ever to do this.
You see this all of the time. A person will be rushing around to get ready for work or an evening out. He/she is bustling and a bit worked-up about it, but they spent the prior hour checking Email and doing tasks that weren’t needing to be done then. Or what about the college student at the end of a semester who had weeks to complete a paper yet waited until the last two and then is “so stressed out” by all that they have to do.
We all put things off, well I assume we all do, but we don’t have to do that. Recognizing why and how we do is an important first step to overcoming this pattern. The second is an old-fashioned idea that still works:
Oh, sorry forgot to finish that title. I’ll get to it later. Anyway, what I was saying was that we’re so distracted these days. It’s very difficult for us to focus on something that isn’t stimulating for a long period of time.
Blog posts like this just cater to the abbreviated type of reading that USA Today popularized in the 1980s.
This week literary agent Rachelle Gardner posted a report on how she was doing implementing Tony Schwartz‘s 90-minute solution to being more productive. I don’t want to repeat all that Tony said – it’d be best for you to just read his post. His main premise is that we work best in 90 minute intervals, which need to be set apart by times of rest and renewal. He states that we’ve adopted some unhealthy AND UNPRODUCTIVE work habits and we need to reconsider how we naturally accomplish tasks. He also identifies something I’ve been saying for a while: We have become addicted to, and dependent on, adrenaline to accomplish tasks. ( I think we learn this while procrastinating during our schooling days)
So, I’ve taken up the challenge and will schedule four 90-minute periods a day to get stuff done. Big stuff. And I will do other things in between – enjoy conversation, read, work-out, rest, and renew (this does not look like social media).
At a recent conference I attended, one of the speakers shared how engineers at some universities receive an iron ring upon graduation. Supposedly started by Canadian Herbert Haultain in 1922, the engineers are told the ring symbolizes the reality that if they don’t do their jobs well, people will die. For Canadians at the time, the memory of the Quebec bridge collapses were fresh in their mind. Finished in 1907, it collapsed due to poor engineering work, killing 75 people. Re-engineered and rebuilt, it collapsed again in 1917, killing 11 more people.
Which made me think: What happens to people when I don’t do my job well?