You don’t inspire your teammates by showing them how amazing you are, you inspire them by showing them how amazing they are.
Have you ever been to a bar with a sign that promises Free Beer Tomorrow?
At first you’re like this is amazing, I’ll be back tomorrow for that free beer.
However each day you come back the sign does not change…
Your initial excitement over the prospect quickly turns into realization that you aren’t ever going to get that free beer are you?
That realization quickly turns into frustration. You have been mislead. Now you don’t trust those words will ever turn into that original excitement of free beer. Keep reading to see how Free Beer signs apply to our everyday relationships both inside and outside of work.
What are open loops?
Getting Things Done introduces the idea of open loops, which are really incomplete tasks. The more of these you collect the heavier everything feels, the more stressed you are etc.
This is one way to reduce this and in my experience live a much more happy and productive life. That said, there are many ways to do this and the important thing isn’t to use Getting Things Done or any other method or tool , it is to find the right tool for you!
What does free beer have to do with work?
This is where the “next week fallacy” comes into play for both Individual Contributors, Managers and Managers of Managers. Or said differently, everybody whether at work or home.
Each time you tell a coworker, direct report, your boss or anyone else at work that “you’ll take something up”, “expect a decision soon”, “should have clarity next week” you’ve created a social contract. How you as a human act to follow through on this social contract has big consequences over time. They consequences might not be immediate, they do however collect over time and lead to positive or negative relationships.
You’ve told someone “you’ll take something up”, “expect a decision soon”, “should have clarity next week”,“will get back to them”.
You never do.
More than a week or weeks go by, nothing ever happens.
Just because the other human doesn’t act as your enforcer of social contracts and continuously check in on it does not mean:
- That human has forgotten.
- That human finds the lack of response acceptable.
You’ve now created a slight with that human. When that human collects to many of those slights they are more likely to seek better relationships.
You’ve told someone “you’ll take something up”, “expect a decision soon”, “should have clarity next week”.
You follow up.
Maybe not even with the actual answer or resolution, just an update that you are still awaiting X, Y or Z and will follow up again either way.
NOTE: One should never promise what is not in their control to give.
That said updates either way and frequent communication are always in your control.
You’ve created clarity, trust and a stronger relationship.
How do I start?
Simple to say (words), harder to do (actions) consistently.
Find your process to capture these open loops. Follow through either way.
Maybe that is Getting Things Done, maybe it’s just jotting them down in field notes. Experiment and find what works for you while realizing this is a journey not and exercise in finding perfection.
Most importantly, follow through with humans, be honest with them and build long lasting bonds.
The release of WP CLI had a huge impact on my career, I had the opportunity to chronicle some of my favorite commands on the WP Engine Engineering Blog.
Getting Things Done was recently recommended to me. If you want to be more productive with much less stress go read it now!
The premise of the book is that you have open loops, ideas that you’re constantly remembering over and over. Instead of the replay you should write these down, not just the idea, specifically an action that needs to be taken.
I have done something similar for years with a txt document, however it wasn’t quite holding up recently. My previous method was to do this in a txt document on my work computer. This only works if the open loops are work related and I have my computer open (actually pretty often but still).
Reading the book sent me down a rabbit hole to solve the following:
- Need to represent my personal life as well.
- Input from phone, tablet or computer.
- phone, tablet & computer need to be in sync.
Enter Things 3
This let me to Things 3 from Cultured Code, which is available for MacOS & iOS (Not sure if Windows or Android versions). There are separate versions for your Apple Computer, iPhone and iPad. These all cost money as well, worth it but maybe worth considering on which devices will you use it?
Applying GTD w/ Things 3
I have 2 areas within Things 3, one for work and one for personal. Within these areas I have projects, for work I have a project called “Daily” that most tasks fall into. Work projects are done in JIRA so I haven’t had a need to replicate that at all.
For Personal I have more projects, for example “Weekends” where I put personal tasks to be done on the weekend.
Essentially whenever you have an idea or open loop starts you should record it to the inbox of Things 3, preferably with an action. Being able to do this on your phone or tablet ups the game here. For example, Email Cantus on the Festival of Bells. Leave these in the inbox.
Each morning, or whenever works for you. Work through your inbox in Things 3. The idea is to move these to the right project and assign a day that you will do it. This helps normalize the random to just one additional place that isn’t your mind. To be clear it does not take the place of calendar, email, project management software or IM, just provides a personal task management system for anything outside of that.
Wrote this down while watching Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child on Netflix.
Pure Positive: The more doubt and negativity you knock out of anything the heavier it gets, the clearer it gets and the deeper it gets to those around it; it’s contagious.Jimi Hendrix
This really hit home as it really applies to anything you do in life, the clearer the goal and better the definition of what success looks like the more likely we are to succeed.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.