- To Be More Effective Embrace Your Quirks
- Be More Effective by Adapting Tools To Fit Your Needs
- Be More Effective By Treating Yourself Like A Child
- Be More Effective By Noticing Your Own Sneakiness
We tend to think of “quirks” as being the privilege of genius. If you’re special enough, then the world tolerates your weirdness. But what if embracing your quirks is actually the solution to greater productivity and impact?
If It’s Crazy But It Works, It’s Not Crazy
When most people think about planning and execution, they divide it up into two fields: the planning, and productivity. Of course, either field is plenty big enough to lose yourself in, but if you step back and take a look at it, you actually need to deal with them both together in order to get a handle on either of them.
You’ve probably learned that you’re pretty idiosyncratic when it comes to productivity.
Everyone has their little quirks; the little ways they persuade themselves that what they really ought to do is exactly what they want to do right now. Personally, I can never work without a hot cup of coffee at my elbow, whether I drink it or not. It’s just my little thing. And, I nearly always have to clear 3 or 4 little tasks off my todo list before I get down to real work. They’re like warm-ups for me or something.
So imagine if you’re like me and you just can’t settle in to work on a ‘big frog’ first thing in the morning– but your big plan says that you must put an hour in on your next course before you do anything else that day (This is standard advice when something is ‘important but not urgent’.)
What’s going to happen during that oh-so-important hour?
You’re going to skip that session more often than not. Or waste half of it on those ‘little’ tasks. And you’re going to be frustrated and first thing you know you’re going to be way behind on your plan.
But this is how most people write their plans!
You must become a student of your quirks. Embrace your weird. Take notes about what works for YOU– not what Lifehacker says should work.
I had one client tell me he needed to crank out some big strategic goals for his business– but he couldn’t bear to leave his phone unchecked in the morning. When I suggested that he check his phone, deal with anything that needed dealing, then turn it off for an hour to plan, he was gobsmacked. The thought had never occurred to him, because the conventional wisdom is that once you are sucked into opening your inbox you never get out.
However once he dealt with any problems that had occurred overnight, it was no problem to hold people off for an hour– and because his mind was at rest, he could put his attention on what he needed to do, and the project was off his plate in a week.
What Conventional Wisdom Should You Be Ignoring?
I had another client that was great at starting things– in fact, the term obsessive might apply. She would focus all her attention on whatever big things she needed to do. But the weight of open loops for all the other stuff she was supposed to do was driving her crazy. She wanted to work on her main project, but she had to finish all these other things first! So I suggested that she set aside one day a week as a ‘finish up’ day. It’s amazing how much stuff gets done on that day, leaving her with plenty of time to work on the big projects.
So those are a couple of examples of when standard advice is completely off-target, unhelpful, or just wrong. Why do we tend to follow it so slavishly? Doesn’t it make more sense to trust our own experiences?
When people fall off the wagon with their plans, oftentimes, they see it as a personal failure. That they’re too undisciplined to execute. But usually it’s the plan that’s the problem– trying to shoehorn a big project into a life that’s already fairly full. You can sit on it like a suitcase as you wiggle the zipper, but in general, you’re going to have to be more creative.
And it isn’t for me to tell you how to be creative. I can do it with my clients because I can ask a lot of questions about their routine. But with you, you’ll have to do some detective work on your own.
So here’s the plan: grab the worksheet to help you clarify what actually is working for you. Fill out this 20-minute questionnaire and you’ll have a template to do more of the weirdo things that make you more effective. Stop feeling like you should be doing things differently, and start just doing the things your business is crying out for you to do.