Ever heard that?

In the C-Suite, you’ve got your hands full balancing the needs of your team with the needs of your stakeholders.  To avoid the nasty situation of a blown deadline, here a few thoughts on keeping your people and projects on track and thereby sleeping better at night…

How is it that a brilliant, energetic team member misses deadlines?  Does he or she simply not care?  In many instances, it’s more complicated than that.  Missed deadlines can happen for a wide range of reasons.  Team members who are non-confrontational by nature may not be willing to stand up in the early stages of a project and ably express their concerns over proposed deadlines.  Perhaps you have a team member who is a terrible estimator of the resources needed to make a deadline, or a team member may be a ‘pleaser’ who will nod in affirmation at any outlandish deadline put forth. More likely, you have a team member who simply does not have the time-management skills to complete tasks on time.

Being micro-managed sucks.  Micro-managing sucks.  In almost all instances, it will fail in the long run. However, temporary ‘atomic coaching’ of oneself or others (don’t freak out just yet) can provide huge benefits to creating good work habits.  Dave Logan, author and senior lecturer at the USC Marshall School of Business recommends that we use our brains in ‘productivity units’.  While many people claim to be masters at ‘multi-tasking’, few people truly are.  Allowing the brain to focus absolutely on a task in 20 minute intervals may be just the ticket to success.   Logan suggests breaking tasks into small, concentrated focus ‘sprints’ and attributes his success at authorship to the following formula:

  1. When you’re ready to start, set a timer for 20 minutes, such as the stopwatch feature on an iPhone. Set your cell phone to airplane mode, turn off your email, and silence all other distractions. Then hit start on the timer.
  2. During the 20 minutes, you must focus on that task without interruption. And unless the building burns down, do nothing but work on that task until the timer goes off. You may hit the wall, but keep going.  The vast majority of people find they can work on that task “in the zone” until the timer goes off.

“After 20 minutes, you have a choice: keep working or take a break.  If you keep working, reset the timer to 20 minutes and go through the process again, without interruption until the next 20 minutes are up.  If you decide to take a break, it can be short (such as refilling your coffee cup), medium (returning a phone call) or long (going into a meeting, or working out).”

It’s called the ‘Multiple Put Down’ and sharing the concept with members of your team might be a great step toward keeping your team and your stakeholders in alignment.

To read Dave Logan’s complete blog post:   http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-single-best-time-management-tip-ever/