on getting things done


There are the things that we love to do and then there is everything else, but whatever our job is we have to get done what needs doing.

Planning helps, but as any military person knows your plans ho out of the window on first contact with the enemy. For most of us civilians the enemy will take the form of colleagues, customers and life in general all of whom will be queuing up to screw our best intentions.

What we have to do is to get our heads down and get on with it, doing our best to prioritise our time. If we work alone that is not too hard as long as we stay focussed, but when you are part of a team you need to be thinking about colleagues too. There is little point in sitting back smugly regarding your own success if everyone else is deep in the smelly stuff and your contribution to the team goals should be more important than your own.

So how do you do it? There is a lot of nonsense out there in terms of time management, but the one or two true sets of guidelines. One is the Eisenhower Method, the other is Pareto. I use both and have done for many years, but the key to both, and any other way of working, is being able to overcome procrastination.

If you dither nothing will get done, so work out what needs doing and get it done. No matter how hard it is or how much you loathe doing it, once it is done you can move on and most of the time you will better for having done it.

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on consequences


I had been watching a documentary on TV and had become bored enough to have picked up my tablet and started checking emails by the time that the programme ended. I was so engrossed that I did not realise that a new programme had begun until some of the dialogue started to prick my hearing.

The new show was about someone who had been jailed whilst living abroad and whilst it seemed a fair assessment to say that he was ignorant of the law that he had broken, there was little doubt that he had transgressed from what was presented. What struck me though was the complete denial of his friends and relatives that he was in any way at fault, the concept of other countries having different laws to us being dismissed as almost not relevant. Their dear relative/friend was simply a victim of silly foreigners and their odd ways.

It seems a feature of modern thinking that wrongdoing, if perpetrated by someone close, can just be glossed over and forgotten. Another example of this was on the news in one of my recent travels abroad when two late-teenagers died when they crashed the stolen car that they had been racing around the streets in. Parents and friends eulogised the pair as fine young men, yet the police confirmed that they had both been arrested several times for stealing cars. I try to be fair, but to me fine young men do not go around stealing cars and driving like idiots.

I am all for being supportive of friends or relatives who are in trouble and would not drop a friend simply because of something that they did, but that is different to denial that anything had happened. Helping someone get through troubles is an important part of your relationship with them, but part of that help is accepting what they have done and dealing with it in a mature way.

Our actions, and inactions, have consequences. Equally we should respect the ways of others and, when in their country, strive to understand that we may not be able to behave there in the same way as we do at home. For me the consequences of my failure to pay attention to the TV and turn it off at the end of my programme got me into this musing so perhaps I got off lightly, but then I was in the privacy of my own home. But when out in our own or other people’s communities we should be prepared to conform or the consequence may well be loss off liberty or life.

on censorship


One of my circle on social media has felt some pressure to cease blogging on a certain current political topic. Thankfully she has thought it through and decided to carry on, not least because she feels it is important to express her views.

I fully support her even though we are on opposite sides of that debate, and other things for that matter, for I wholeheartedly believe in free speech. To give in to pressure on what you talk about is self-censorship and I think that that is wrong.

We need open debate and any effort to suppress an opposing view is bigotry. If we close our minds to the way other people think then we are wasting an opportunity to learn and to understand. We can agree to disagree and there is no reason why people with polar opposite views can’t establish lasting friendships.

Last week I wrote about the myth of certainty. I learned along the way that to have others challenge me helped me to develop and clarify my thinking; the last thing that I wanted was to be surrounded by sycophants telling me that I was always right.

Debate and discussion are essential to our development as people and I am against any move to censor free exchange of ideas.

on the myth of certainty


A local business pundit wrote this week about the need for certainty, in the case in relation to the UK leaving the EU. I will not get into the Brexit debate here, but do want to address the question of certainty.

People often think that if you are uncertain then you are weak, but if we are in a tight spot the last thing I want is to have a leader who is certain because they will do the wrong thing. Read more…

Twenty five years of America


I am back in the USA again twenty five years after my first visit and I have been here at least once a year since bar one (I missed 2016 for various reasons). Many of those visits have coincided with elections here and on this trip the mid-terms are pretty much decided, although here in Florida we have three significant posts all in the midst of recounts. Read more…

on negotiation, part four


The No Deal, or Walk Away, option is always there for both parties. Yes it is a last resort, but there are times when you cannot get a viable deal and walking away is the only way to go. It works best if you understand what the consequences are though.
In this example the company that I worked for had a contract with a client for a particular job to be performed on an ad-hoc basis. It worked well and the contract had been renewed several times, but the client had gone for a complete renewal proposal over about eighteen months and wanted to negotiate a deal for the job. As you might expect they were also looking at other contractors in case we had not the capacity for the job. Read more…

on negotiation, part three


One of the things I talked about last time was avoiding painting yourself into a corner because you need to keep at least one exit route available to you: Once you are trapped you are going to have to take whatever the other side offers. But whilst you want to avoid boxing yourself in it is to your advantage to help the other side doing it to themselves. Read more…