February 06, 2008
Help Wanted and getting things done
This post on "getting things done" is brought to you by Gold Systems, a Unified Communications software company in Boulder, Colorado. If you are a Unified Communications Specialist, a Telecom Engineer, a sales professional or a software Engineer and you think you just might want to consider a career change, check out the job postings at http://www.goldsys.com/index.php?load=content&page_id=28 Doesn't matter too much where you live - you'd be welcome to join us in sunny Boulder, Colorado, but we have people all over the U.S. if you happen to like where you currently live.
Now back to the blog - I've had a task on my task list to write the three sentences above for about a week. Once I sat down to do it, it took me about five minutes. And that reminds me of a blog post I've been meaning to write.
A few years ago Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, came to CU Boulder to talk about his experience as an entrepreneur. It was a great thrill to hear him speak and to talk to him for a minute after his presentation. One story he told was how in the very early days of Amazon.com they (him included) would box up books to ship out to customers. The orders started pouring in and they found they were spending a lot of time on their knees on a hard concrete floor boxing up books.
Jeff said that he'd finally had enough, and he told someone that he was going to the local home improvement store to buy knee pads like the kind carpenters often wear. The other person said, "Jeff, why don't we just buy tables instead?" He told the story I think to illustrate how easy it is to get so busy that you get so focused on the task at hand that you can't think about the real problem and the best way to solve it.
I see this all the time, and it is an easy trap to fall into. A good entrepreneur friend of mine doesn't have time to investigate buying a high-quality spam filter, so he spends time every day or two going through the spam to make sure nothing important is getting trapped by his low-quality spam filter. It's like buying kneepads instead of a table.
I figured out a long time ago that as an entrepreneur, there would always be more for me to do than there was time to do it. The first five years or so I stressed out about it all the time, thinking that I needed to work longer hours to get everything done. I needed to get everything done, I thought. I tended to work on the least important, most urgent tasks but then my friend Jim Lejeal pointed out that the CEO's job is to work on the most important tasks that only the CEO can do, and that the really important tasks are usually not perceived as urgent at all. It's normal to have more than we can do, and I think it's good because if I have a lot of options for how to spend my time, I can try to choose the very best use of my time. (It's a goal - I don't always spend my time on the most important thing - I'm human and I still spend time on silly stuff at times. It helps keep me sane.)
I created a category on my task list as "The ONE Most Important Thing" just to remind me to think about the one really important thing each day that I can do to move the company forward.
So here's the tie-in back to my original help wanted post. I was so busy, I didn't take five minutes to do something that will ultimately make me and other people at my company less busy. Now I've done it and I can check it off my task list. What have you not taken time to do, that if you'd just do it, would ultimately save you a lot of time and make your business or your life better?
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Tracked on Feb 7, 2008 11:43:18 AM
To Do List: Read Terry's blog and make a poignant and insightful comment where necessary.
Posted by: Carmin | Feb 7, 2008 5:11:22 AM
Doesn't it feel great to finally check that off your to-do list? Amazing isn't it, how we can spend hours or days, procrastinating a five minute task? Love "the ONE most important thing" and if you get that one important thing done first it sets a positive tone for the rest of the day, and tends to spur greater productivity. Great post, Terry, and a wonderful reminder to be aware of the ways in which we sometimes get in our own way.
Posted by: Lisa Wilder | Feb 7, 2008 8:16:03 AM
"I didn't take five minutes to do something that will ultimately make me and other people at my company less busy. Now I've done it and I can check it off my task list." --
as you close the full circle of cause and affect, ideally I will be one of those individuals that gets to help make the direct contribution to the "less busy" part. :)
Time - that's why wisdom originates from experience, valuable post Terry.
Posted by: Tom Smith | Feb 8, 2008 2:46:29 PM
This is so true! Definitely adding "the ONE most important thing" to my to do list. Infact I will set a weekly reminder for the equivalent for the week too!
Posted by: Senith | Feb 9, 2008 1:39:12 AM