In his latest book, “Busy,” Crabbe urges us to step back from all this multi-tasking and digital overload, to distinguish the busy from the important, as a controlled path to fulfillment. In other words, a realistic approach to embracing ever accelerating change.
This book makes me feel more content. It reinforces my approach to changing direction in my life, amid the constant, harrowing bombardment of information, noise and business. Most profoundly, this book echoes my values, and endorses my support system of a core group of family and friends as chief motivators.
Crabbe’s strategies to manage change that I find most effective:
- Set clear goals, for the year then publicize them to increase accountability. I did that in a recent blog post, in praise of Steven Covey’s book “Primary Greatness, The 12 Levers of Success”.
To achieve those longer term goals, every day, set at most 3 goals for the day. Allocate specific time slots to be 100% focused for uninterrupted time, to perform the most important tasks that will enable you to achieve those daily goals. For example, my morning two hour slot is for writing articles like this one, working on items for my consulting business, while listening to classical music to keep my happiness quotient up. I switch off all devices during that time to avoid distraction.
Before and after such intense sessions I cover the more routine, less intensive catch up items like social media activities, correspondence, sorting and organizing.
- Look and listen how others are solving problems similar to what I may be or will likely be experiencing and adapt/replace my methods to improve.
Reading latest books and news articles is what works well for me.
- Knowing what I am really good at, matching what I enjoy, and continually reinforcing that message as my brand in all conversations and communications gives me satisfaction from which financial success will flow (right?).
Yes, this is a lifelong exercise in managing change. When an approach fails, acknowledge and change direction with a smile. Recently, after spending several months searching unsuccessfully for another corporate job, I went for a refreshing walk through the park and decided to proffer my skills as a consultant. To make that happen as efficiently as possible, I joined a consultancy for consultants, to leverage their already proven expertise, while focusing on my personal brand. As a result, I am very focused and smiling more every day!
Crabbe encapsulates how to turn “crazy busy” into rewarding, productive living, under 3 categories:
- Focus on the outputs that you choose to produce. Then selectively use very specific inputs that will be needed to create your chosen output. Opt to have more fun creating that output. For example, for me to write this article (output) about managing change in the digital age, I selected 3 new books (specific inputs) to glean from, then summarize/add value, to present to you, dear reader. Doing this with fun, I frequently walk to a secluded bench in the park where I do my best reading and creative thinking, far from distractions. Nothing like some sunshine on one’s shoulder to bring a smile to one’s face and to stimulate the creative juices. Then, when I return to my desk, the classical music sets a relaxed, content mood to transform those ideas to tangible outputs.
- Make your daily goals count. Choose at most 3 important activities that bring you closer to delivering your chosen outputs, that will enable reaching your annual goals. My example for today:
- morning: continuing drafting this article;
- afternoon: solder 6 type-X components onto 7 boards;
- in between: prepare for family coming for dinner.
- Multitasking may be a myth. During a specific time slot in the day, visualize the important output that you are working towards during that hour and block out other interruptions that detract from that task.Schedule specific time bursts between those intense sessions, to deal with that constant stream of more routine business (emails, tweets, calls), when you are typically least creative.At any time, when myriad thoughts are flying through your head, jot them down to free your mind but to action them at a later, purposefully scheduled time.
Renegotiate expectations. Find alternate words to say “no” by compromising or by offering to start with a smaller deliverable.
- Build a strategy to maximize your strengths and spend a large proportion of your time on it. In my case, I am investing a lot of time organizing, summarizing, teaching, motivating and coaching to apply these key skills, as a consultant, to my husband’s business, and to everything else in between.
- Be creative by looking for alternative ways of doing something. My inspiration comes from Janine Benyus’ Biomimicry, the art and science of imitating nature (see my recent blogs “How to run a Business like a Forest” ).When an idea seems to be failing, scrap it (avoiding emotional attachments) and try another way as soon as possible. When my job hunt is failing, I asked myself “what am I trying to leverage by doing this? what can I learn from this?”In my husband’s business, he thought that offering abundant features would be the attraction but instead price point was more important, so he has redesigned the product from ground up to sell at a lower price while offering more features (the KANO principle; what was perceived as new and exciting quickly become a basic expectation, see my Process Optimization part 2 blog).
- Manage your very personal brand. Know and live it. Ensure that every written and verbal communication reflects it. My love of organizing, delving deep, then summarizing, operating efficiently, all while striving to live sustainably in the closed-loop systems way of thinking, is embedded in everything I do.
- Publish your concrete annual goals to make yourself accountable for them. Then, every day, extract top 3 tasks into specific, 1-hour-minimum time slots, that will help you to achieve those longer term goals.
- Reaffirm your values. Identify up to 3 and ensure that your long range goals and daily to-dos reflect those values. When feeling depressed or unmotivated, ask yourself 5 Whys to dig deeper as to why you are doing what you are doing. If the ultimate answer misaligns with your true values, “unbusy” yourself from that activity (see my Process Optimization part 4 blog). Refocusing will instantly inject some positive adrenaline into your veins.
- Reconnect/stay connected with at least a dozen close family and friends at a more frequent, deeper, more meaningful levels. For me, Friday nights are sacred, where we bond around the Sabbath table. Treat this core group with utmost esteem, supporting them during hardships and celebrating their successes.
- Venture deeper. Focus on fewer daily goals but experience them fuller, more deeply. Strengthen your differentiation by continuously learning, so that you can live, coach and teach more effectively. Enjoy the breaks between those deeper activities with freedom of thought and greater release, yet with a greater sense of accomplishment.
How can YOU affect personal deep change?
Crabbe’s 7 strategies are outlined here:
Links to the other blogs in this series:
I hope this series helps you find at least 1 useful tip from each of these 3 books to enable you to more efficiently manage the ever accelerating pace of change, in today’s ripe-with-possibilty digital era:
- Crabbe, T. (2015). How to Thrive in a World of Too Much Busy. New York: Hachette Book Group.
- Cran, C. (2016). The Art of Change Leadership. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- Raskino, M., Waller, G. (2015) Digital to the Core. United States: Gartner, Inc.
Thank you, Fay.