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Stop and Sharpen Your Ax

February 21, 2011

Have you really ever had too much time, too many employees or simply not enough to do? Then why do people constantly use their stress, limited support system and workload as an excuse for doing things only  “good enough?”

I assure you that continuing to chop at your work without rest will only lead to getting less done than more. If you’ve ever said we are too busy to plan, what you really mean is that you’d rather continue to chop through your work, allowing your ax and meaningful productivity to grow dull.

Taking time to sharpen your ax by stopping to plan, evaluate, recharge—whatever, will actually have you blowing through the forest faster than had you never stopped at all.

3 tips for every Lumberjack or Jill:

1. Do not mistake activity for productivity.
Being stressfully busy does not equate to making an impact on your goals and mission.

The point: don’t do a million things “good enough.”  I firmly believe that if you have bothered to include it as one of your tasks, it needs to be done in a way that produces maximum results. This typically means some things need to go.

Common sense tells us that knocking five projects out of the park will produce better long-term results than doing ten in a mediocre fashion. Too often, we consider success related to the quantity of our output and not the quality. I believe in the reverse.

If you are just busy with things that don’t really make a difference, then you are just busy looking busy.

2. Have a list of possibilities.
Balance what must get done, with what you wish you could try.  When work feels too routine and repetitive, include time to try a new idea or method. Balance your workload with 1) the things that will make the biggest impact, 2) a bit of room for trying a new, innovative idea and 3) reflection (evaluation).

Keep project meetings and brainstorming meetings entirely separate. Take time for imagining possibilities, but don’t mix it with the world of timelines and deliverables.

Let your “free thinking” happen without any regard for how much it will cost, how many people will be involved or how long it will take.  Keep this list open and ongoing. You never know when you will talk about how to solve a problem you haven’t even experienced yet. Going back to this list gives you an opportunity to see beyond your routine.

3. Have pride in your work.
You can’t expect the world around you to point out all the “good” you do. If you need them to, you might need to find some new motivation. Although I am a relentless advocate of creating objective measures of success, be sure you keep a personal list that indicates what you have done in the last month, quarter, year (whatever your measure) of which you are most proud.

Conversely, have a list of what some of your challenges taught you.  Unless you really screwed up, you don’t have to look at things as learning from your “mistakes,” instead, we are all just learning. Your learning list is equally as important as your list of successes; both make you better.

Productivity. Possibilities. Pride.

For more information on helping your team develop the structure needed to keep its ax sharp,
contact Brandom Acts Marketing.

Above all, wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 10:10

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 21, 2011 9:17 pm

    You nailed it Heather! great post 🙂

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