Tuesday, 12 April 2011

How to do more than One Thing

Do One Thing Well… And then Another
Rufus recently posted how it is important to do one thing well. That way you’ve got one success under your belt (even if it s a minor one) and then you can build on that.

Rufus followed this up with another post about how to make more time. In his Saturn post he specifically outlines how to go from being someone who is maxed out to getting better at time-management, hence making more effective use of one’s time.

Step Up, Lazy Style
However, my experience has been that it is a step by step process that involves switching up gears one after the other rather than jumping straight from barely efficient time management to super-duper efficient time management.

The Lazy Project Manager has an interesting take on dinosaurs and quotes the following theory by Miss Anne Elk (from Monty Python):

'All brontosauruses are thin at one end, much, much thicker in the middle, and then thin again at the far end. That is the theory that I have and which is mine, and what it is too.'

The Lazy Project Manager then turns this around by saying that:

'All projects are thick at one end, much, much thinner in the middle and then thick again at the far end. That is the theory that I have and which is mine, and what it is too.'

Another View of the Brontosaurus
Let’s view the brontosauruses as the workload that a person is capable of handling. At either end not much work can be handled and it’s in the middle chunky bit that we want to get to.

Now if we consider the project as the effort to reach that state of peak efficiency, you’ll see that it is thick at either end and thin in the middle. The ramp up to efficiency takes a lot of effort, once you’re there the focus is not on being productive but just getting as much done as possible. Once you reach peak efficiency though it requires a lot of work to prevent yourself from slipping back in to inefficiency if you take your eyes off the ball.

The other thing that I wanted to highlight is that it is an incremental process of step-up and step-down. Although the step-down can be very rapid if you let go of the steering wheel of efficiency, slide down the brontosauruses’ back and in to the muddy depths of inefficiency, panic-mode and possible depression.

Edit: Rufus has a follow-up post here that explains how (using the metaphor of leveling) through magic can help you to increase your capacity to get things done.