Every day I wake up excited to get to work. I have lists of stuff I’ve got to do and things I’m excited to accomplish. I race through my morning workout and get to the office, thinking today is going to be great. And then it happens…
No sooner do I sit down to start “accomplishing” when my computer pings and I get sucked in. And it’s an endless list of email and phone messaging that seems important. Stuff that needs some level of attention. But being digital, much of it can be ignored for a bit, with the idea that I’ll get to this later.
Maybe it’s a conspiracy. Before I know it, asteroids start targeting my desk. My phone. My day. Out of nowhere, people hit me with a seemingly endless stream of needs. I need you to review this. I need you to fix that. I need you to pay. I need you to drive. I need you to upend your day and focus on my stuff.
Before I know it, lunch hour has passed by and I’m still struggling to get to anything on my to-do list. Then it’s 4, then it’s 5, then it’s 6. And still, I’m being hit with stuff that seems intent on keeping me from crossing my things off that list.
As CEO of a variety of companies over the years, I have always said that CEO retirement gifts should be gold fire-hats; not gold-plated watches. The idea that CEOs spend the bulk of their days fire-fighting and playing ping-pong with hundreds of issues and people has become epidemic, especially in this world of email, internet and instant everything.
My problem is a bit of that classic mistake people make. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. It’s the definition of insanity. And I keep doing it. I keep writing to-do lists. I keep going to work, excited to achieve a variety of inspired activities, and I keep going home, late for dinner, and often without the satisfaction of clearing a list or achieving something great.
Why? Why don’t I learn? Is it the driven entrepreneur mindset that says, I can overcome anything? Or is it stupidity? Is it a desire to prove myself wrong (or right)? Is it some self-destructive warped form of entertainment? Let’s hope not…
I could promote an answer. I could pretend I have an answer. But clearly, I do not. So I guess I will simply continue to fight off the daily asteroid attack (cue the visions of Luke Skywalker and a Lightsaber in a corporate setting).
What I do know is this: Under the heading of time management, rule number one is: Beginning is Half Done. Just getting started on something has a big impact on its likelihood of completion. As for personnel management, my rule is this: You are welcome in my office and you can voice your complaints, but you better have a suggestion for a solution. Otherwise, get out. And as far as phone, email and other digital distraction, my rule is that I have no rule.
Oh, I’ve tried the Only check email twice a day, and the Don’t answer any call you don’t recognize. My problem is that I suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out). I don’t sleep on transatlantic flights, I don’t turn down things offered. I am constantly on high-alert for new visual stimulus, new ideas, new people, new entertainment. And when it comes to email and phone, I want to make sure I don’t miss something that might just be the big one. It’s FOMO and I don’t want to miss anything!
They say admitting your problem is the first step. Consider this my public admission. My name is David, and I am a workaholic, under attack on a daily basis…
So slowly, very slowly, I will apply my “awareness” of the problem in an attempt to mitigate the impact of interruptions, digressions, diversions, complainers and all the other stuff that conspires to keep me from my personal achievements.
If you have similar troubles getting all your work done, perhaps you just need a good mirror, some willingness to be honest, and the ability to kick your own ass!