IPMA International Project Management Association
3 December 2021 / 11:00

Self-management through self-reflection

Your success depends on productivity. Your productivity depends on your effectiveness and effectivity. Those are two base assumptions for the self-reflection about self-management.

Some people are more productive than others, and some areas of the organization are performing better than others. So there must be a way how to better at what we do. Successful people do something differently. But what?

I asked the “productivity” question myself a few years ago. Here is what I found. This is not a success story. It is a story of survival. I don’t consider myself to be successful. However, I believe to be effective and efficient in what I do.

So here are a few insights on productivity.

What do successful people have in common with people that want to be successful? It is a Time.

Every one of us has 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days within a year. So to say I don’t have time is, let us say, not really true. If you read a biography of successful people, you realize that they are good in many things and not just one. Usually, they are good in business, they are also outstanding in some sport. They only have 24 hours a day too.

Source: Visualize Value

 

Henry Ford said: “Some people get ahead, during the time others waste.” In this quote, we can find the answer to how to be more productive. Simply we should stop wasting our time. Easy, right? To prevent wasting our time on activities that are not essential makes us more effective.

Effectiveness is doing the right things.
Do we do the right things on our way to being more productive? To answer this question correctly, we need to be honest with ourselves. I mean, really honest. So, let’s check how truthful you are.

What are your priorities? Not what you wish were your priorities, but what actually are your priorities. A few years ago, I was in one workshop where everyone had to introduce himself/ herself by describing his/ her priorities. One girl stood up and started with. “you know my priority is definitely a sport, all kinds of sport. I think being healthy is very important.” Then the facilitator asked her: “well, so how often do you do sport during a week?” The girl replied: “honestly, I am quite busy these days, so I don’t have time for sport. I am working on 4 projects in parallel. In the evening, when I come home, I am so destroyed that I go to sleep immediately.”

We lie to ourselves. We live in hallucinations that once we have something, we will do something because only in that way might we be successful. We do it daily. We do not acknowledge the reality.

The greatest crime is the overlooking of who you really are in favor of the story of who you think you are. This preoccupation with your personal drama is the cloud that masks the Sun.
-Wu Hsin

The way we spend our days is the way we spend our lives. We start to be more effective when we begin to be honest with ourselves. The best way is to acknowledge the reality. And the facts are in your calendar.

By reflecting on your calendar, you can identify why you are progressing slowly. For example, I know several coaches who want to be good at coaching. Still, they spend more time designing a web page and posting on social media than coaching. If I want to be a good coach, I need to spend more time coaching than doing other things. Practice makes the master. Looking better on social media will not make me a better coach. Coaching will do.

To sum it up. To be successful, we should do only the activities connected to the field we want to succeed in. And we should have those activities on our calendar. If we don’t have them – we waste our time.

The thing is that we often want to be good in many areas and not just one. That depends, of course, on our definition of success. Here are a few tips that I consider essential – to give you something tangible, not only my conceptual thoughts.

Source: Twitter: ArihantJain_8

 

Once we have the right activities in our calendar comes the second question. How can I be the most efficient in what I do?

Efficiency is doing things right.
I am going to be a bit controversial now, and many people will disagree with my statement.

Multitasking is a lie. Sorry, but you will not persuade me to believe it otherwise. Here are two reasons why I think that multitasking does not work.

We cannot work on two things with our full attention, so even the name is wrong. We are not multitasking; we are task-skipping. In other words, moving from one task to another, then another and another, and then coming back to the first one. The first problem with task skipping is that we waste a lot of time.

Imagine you are reading a book. You are in your bed, in your favorite pajama, covered with a blanked and fantastic piece of knowledge in your hand. No matter how good the book is, at a certain point, you fall asleep, so you put on a bookmark and put a book aside. A day later, you are again in your bed. You grab the book, open it and start to read. But hold on, what is this part of the story about? You need to flip two to three pages back to grasp the story, and then you continue reading where you found your bookmark. This flipping two pages back is a waste of time – from a productivity point of view.

The same happens when we work on two things in parallel. We move from one project to another and waste time getting familiar with the last thing you finished on that project to continue. Not speaking about wasting the time of fiding the last version of the document and wasting time struggling before starting to do something – there is always a good show on Netflix.

The easy answer to how to fight the task skipping is to Do things right the first time. For example, if you read a book tray to finish a chapter before putting the book down. You can read about how to fight multitasking in my blog post: Just In Time in Project Management

The second problem is that you don’t have time to think about anything deeply when you multitask. You’re giving the world an advantage you shouldn’t do.

Let me put it even more straightforward if we don’t think deeply, we don’t have our own opinion because we don’t do the work required to have an opinion. Instead, we operate with surface knowledge. We tackle problems with the first thought that comes to mind. Because we make a poor initial decision, we spend countless hours attempting to correct it. So, again we waste time.

 

 

Imagine you are in a meeting with your colleagues. Of course, you have to open your laptop because you are making notes; let’s assume that for a while. While having a deep discussion about the project, an email notification pops up on your desktop. Because you are disciplined, your first thought is: I am not going to reply, the meeting is more important. After a time, a little devil in your mind suggests you gently: look at the email. It may be very interesting or easy to solve so you will have less work after the meeting. As the temptation is too big, you do it. You open the email during the meeting, quickly read it, and reply promptly to it. That feeling of satisfaction. I did it, I solved the problem, no one noticed that. Meeting keeps going. But wait, after a while, the little devil is back. Now you know you made a mistake, the information settled down in your mind, and you know you made a mistake. It is a small mistake, but to solve it, you need to wait until the end of the meeting, but what is worst is that some people might decide based on your mistake. Your meeting is ruined because you cannot stop thinking about the mistake. Don’t blame yourself – obviously –  blame multitasking.

So, if we want to do things the first time right. We need to dedicate time to do the work. We also need to think to have our own opinion -otherwise, we are replicating opinions of some else. Opinions of other people are, in many if not in all cases, wrong.

Think for a moment. If you eliminate all the activities that are not leading you towards your success, dedicate time only to those activities that help you achieve what you want. And when you even become efficient in performing those activities, what will stand between where you are and where you want to be?

Cheers,
Marek

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Author of this post

Marek works as a LEAN focused Coach at Vaillant Group. His primary responsibility is to design systems to drive and to navigate cultural change towards a culture of continuous improvement. Marek develops his coaching practices in the industrial plants of the Vaillant Group in Slovakia and England.

Besides his love for cultural transformation and process improvement, he is very enthusiastic about project management. Marek founded and developed IPMA Young Crew in Slovakia. As the Management Board Member, he co-developed IPMA Slovakia by taking care of Marketing and Communication. In between 2019 and 2021, he was also the Management Board Member of Young Crew Global, responsible for the Global Young Crew Workshop and Coaches and Mentors program.

Marek has several hobbies. One of them is writing. To develop this skill, Marek writes about Coaching, Culture, Behaviors, and Project Manager Practice.

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