Week notes 7th May 2018

5 mins from the office - canal side tranquility

I started writing this on a sunny afternoon in the garden – its all good as long as you don’t get suntan lotion on the keyboard. I love to be outside and so will be luring people out for their 121s as the weather gets better – especially as we can get to the canal in 5 minutes from the office. I’m finishing it on a packed train to London – but at least its still sunny.

Last week was excellent (and even better for some as I lost my voice half way through) with the first few ‘day in the life’ sessions and also a team meeting which was hugely improved by the fact that my lack of voice meant that my leadership team stepped in the cover parts of the session (we also got to play with lego – whats not to love??).

We’re also seeing our strategy work taking shape and if we wire this into our pipeline of work correctly then it should enable us to pursue some really big goals while making progress on the smaller stuff.

I’m thinking a lot about governance and how to reclaim it as something powerful rather than being see as a blocker but more on that in another post which is lurking around in drafts.

But this thing that really occupied me last week and something I need to do better this week is time management. The train means that I can clear out my emails and do proper work each day but this means I have given into the lure of spending most of my time in meetings. Its brilliant and I am hugely enjoying it but it all feels a bit frantic. This is a problem I have created for myself for all the right reasons. I want to spend as much time as possible getting to know my team and starting to build a network in the rest of the organisation – and I am also starting to more operationally involved (which is my job after all!).

I’m a very impatient person – or more charitably someone with a lot of drive – and as a leader I have always wrestled with the question of pace. How quickly do we need to be moving? How restless do we need to be? How urgent is it that we take action?

I am so acutely aware of the need for our organisation to be attuned to the shift to the network society that I forget that these epoch shifts are generational. I also forget that speed of change is one of the things that is changing (check our Zeynup Tufekci on this).

But more prosaically I am missing two things from my diary:
– time to do some proper thinking and get into ‘flow’ so I can do more than just respond to things (and avoid getting into the habit of doing this as the weekend)
– Some unscripted time where I be available to my team for follow up actions and checkins on projects

This cannot be that hard – but I have started a list I am calling ‘mindful diary’ to help to do it. It will take a couple of weeks to enact but it needs sorting.

So – this week’s challenge is how do I make myself less available in order to be more available? Any suggestion for how other people manage this gratefully received.

PS. Looking at this post I also need to work out how to resize some images – that photo is huge!

One comment
  1. Graham Lally

    May 8, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    Hello. Yes, I agree – finding focus is a hard challenge if a) everything is interesting, and b) nobody else is setting your time, and c) everyone else *wants* a bit of your time. Have also been thinking through this in bits in my weeknotes, eg https://6work.exmosis.net/index.php/2018/02/12/weeknotes-06×01-what-are-the-two-hard-things-in-management/

    So far I’ve had most success when I carefully choose what my big focuses are for a week – or a month. I’ve used weeknotes to think this through and set them out, as it’s a good chance to Reflect, and writing them down helps me to identify and clarify what I’m actually trying to do.

    Otherwise I’ve resorted to blocking in time in my calendar – time to focus on something, and/or time away from others to concentrate. I notice a big difference between being in the office and not being in the office – the former seems to imply that your time is others’ to invade đŸ˜‰

    I also think there’s a lot to be said for being open about your focuses, and why they’re important. If people know those up front, it’s a lot easier to remind people later and to say no to things which distract you.

    Look forward to seeing how the diary goes though. Might try the same…


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