- What was your emotion?
- What triggered that emotion?
- What time was it?
- What impact do these answers have on you and your family?
It's normal to have bad and good days at work. That's life. There are a couple of personal metrics that I use to help me be aware if my bad days outnumber my great days. First, if my desk is completely covered with stacks of paper and books, strategic work has been delayed for emergencies. Second, if I am skipping between many projects in a day, frantically doing the next task before changing topics entirely, I am not building impact. If my to-do list is out of date and my email volume is more than one screen full, I have abandoned discipline to just check things off. The first tangible side effect shows up when my calendar entries are in the wrong place, impacting my customers. Each of these indicates that I have gone below the Accountability line and have allowed myself to abandon prioritization and wallow in the muck of poor work. In the last couple of months, with great new employees and an important and terrifying strategic plan, I have thrown myself into checking off tasks to turn the ship, and in the process, burned myself to a crisp.
After all, "I HAVE TO", the busy fall is coming and this is the only time we have to work on strategic projects. Guess who is in charge of Bad or Good days? Me.
I don't have to. I made that up for myself. When I step back, I know as truth that I need energy to do innovative work. On the business side, Russell Martin & Associates needs innovation to scale and sustain, and our customers need us to grow performance. Similar needs exist on the personal side. Using energy is a positive experience if I am connected to a purpose. In the worst case, energy is consumed by negative, crazy multitasking. When this happens, I lose the connection to purpose to focus on checking off tasks as fast as I can doing no good for anyone including me.
There's evidence that we are changing our brains with these processes but it's not good news in my opinion. The National Institute published this study. There's a lot of information in this paper, but here's a quote that caught my eye:
"…there is still a concern that adolescents and young adults who are the biggest users of media multitasking and the Internet can become dependent on the rapid change of pace that these formats provide, and might then be unable to carry out more sustained goals."
Dr. Travis Bradberry, a popular author and speaker on emotions, shares an article that's easier to get through. Here are some of his points:
- University of Sussex:
- University of London:
There is clearly a cost to the addiction to checking off tasks. Since the focus is on speed, quality suffers. Everyone has typed an email as they flew out the door late at night that they regret sending in the morning. The damage control required is the kind of rework that comes from giving up the prioritization of your energy. My passion and that of my company is to truly impact the performance of our customers. Helping our customers solve complex business and project challenges is impossible if their brains are equivalent to an eight year old having a tantrum.
In this Learning Flash, I'd like to share some ideas for growing your self-awareness of the tales you tell yourself that minimize the best use of your energy. You chose how much you give away. I'd also love to hear how you feel about these thoughts. Feel free to send your stories to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.