Getting All Things Done Means Getting the Balance Right

In one of her recent blog posts, Janet Clarey poses the question How hard is it for you to balance innovation and execution? She compares and contrasts taking time to think and innovate with working in “execution” mode. She explains that when returning from vacation, she was in execution mode, which was good because, according to Janet: “too much time spent on innovation means nothing gets done”.

Also, I’m sure Janet’s to-do list was overflowing, like would be most professionals when they come back from vacation, so execution mode is inevitable! But then Janet adds the flip side: “Of course too much time executing means lack of vision.”

And she poses the grand the question: “How do you balance all the innovative discoveries that present themselves with the need to execute?”

This got me thinking about my own time management strategies. I look on my bookshelf at the copy of David Allen’s Getting Things Done which I purchased a year ago (I ordered it on online at chapters.indigo.ca, which makes me both efficient and Canadian!). I haven’t had time to read it yet. Blame it on the thesis once again? Actually, it’s because I don’t think I really need it. I’m naturally a good time manager. Ok, certain things slip through the cracks now and then, but I tend to amaze people in how I do everything that I do and still can sit on a terrace at happy hour on Thursdays and enjoy a martini, looking relaxed, the sun beaming on my face.

But then, there are the things I have a really hard time getting done. The big things that require more then just power over time. They require a whole other type of power: willpower. Enter thesis.

Then I notice Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles which actually was quite helpful. Here is the opening section of his book entitled “What I Do

I get up, take a shower, have breakfast. I read the paper, brush my teeth. If I have phone calls to make, I make them. I’ve got my coffee now. I put on my lucky work boots and stitch up the lucky laces that my niece Meredith gave me. I head back to my office, crank up the computer. My lucky hooded sweatshirt is draped over the chair, with the lucky charm I got from a gypsy in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for only eight bucks in francs, and my lucky LARGO name tag that came from a dream I once had. I put it on. On my thesaurus is my lucky cannon that my friend Bob Versandi gave me from Morro Castle, Cuba. I point it toward my chair, so it can fire inspiration into me. I say my prayer, which is the Invocation of the Muse from Homer’s Odyssey, translation by T.E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, that my dear mate Paul Rink gave me and which sits near my shelf with the cuff links that belonged to my father and my lucky acorn from the battlefield at Thermopylae. It’s about ten-thirty now. I sit down and plunge in. When I start making typos, I know I’m getting tired. That’s four hours or so. I’ve hit the point of diminishing returns. I wrap for the day. Copy whatever I’ve done to disk and stash the disk in the glove compartment of my truck in case there’s a fire and I have to run for it. I power down. It’s three, three-thirty. The office is closed. How many pages have I produced? I don’t care. Are they any good? I don’t even think about it. All that matters is I’ve put in my time and hit it with all I’ve got. All that counts is that, for this day, for this session, I have overcome Resistance.

And he goes on about overcoming resistance in this inspiring gem of a book. I read this book about three years ago. It was a gift from a friend who saw me struggling with multiple levels of resistance. I decided to do much like Steven Pressfield and analyze how my average day happens. But because I’m more adept with graphs then words, I made a visual representation of how I try to achieve the balance Janet was referring too. Click on the thumbnail to enlarge it.

Mapping my Brain Cycles to Maximize my Efficiency Potential
Mapping my Brain Cycles to Maximize my Efficiency Potential

How does your average day look?

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