Cheryl: On August 12, 2009, over 90 women and men attended the inaugural event of Take Your Brain to Lunch focusing on women’s business topics. We were honored by the positive and insightful survey results at the conclusion of the event and will host these every other month starting in January 2010.
Today we announced our second event in 2009 where we will review 2 relevant business books on the consuming theme of work/life balance. This program is open to everyone, not just women. We will continue to focus on the topics which seem top of mind for today’s women; so guys, come on over and hang out with us to learn the inside scoop! On November 11, 2009 Randy Mayeux will deliver 2 books synopsis over lunch at the Park City Club, Dallas TX. The books are The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz and Getting Things Done: The Art of Stressfree Productivity by David Allen.
While I haven’t read David Allen’s book, I read The Power of Full Engagement a few years ago and have frequently recommended it to coaching clients. When I read books, I use a yellow highlighter. On page 5, I found “To be fully engaged, we must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self-interest.” You can tell I was hooked right from the beginning; this truly resonated with my own experience. When I’ve found myself “in the zone” so to speak, these characteristics have been present in spades. Perhaps my favorite toward the end of the book is “When we have blind spots, we can blind side others without even being aware that we are doing so.” How true this has been when I was open to feedback regarding my blind spots, ouch! I loved the stories of “corporate athletes” and found much of the advice regarding changes simple, straight forward, and common sense; and of course, challenging! Simple does not mean easy. Come join us for lunch on Wednesday, November 11 to hear the wisdom in this book along with what Randy will share from Getting Things Done. Networking, good books, dialogue with smart professionals, and lunch, YUM!
Sara is taking some well deserved vacation this week. She will be at Take Your Brain to Lunch!
Click here to register for the November 11 event.
This is not a post about the politics, the stances of Barack Obama. It is a post about work challenge. And it is fully prompted by a provocative article from Slate.com — The Big Money: The Getting-Things-Done President: Is GTD any way to run a country? By Paul Smalera.
The article is based on the book, and the life/business approach of David Allen in Getting Things Done. Here is Smalera’s paragraph describing the value of Allen’s approach:
Getting Things Done is a productivity system invented by David Allen. Currently all the rage among the lifehacking set, Allen uses seminars, books, and private sessions to teach people how to handle all the “stuff” in their lives. Allen, echoing the theory of alienation that Marx applied to industrialized labor 165 years ago, thinks that the relentless stream of “stuff” white-collar workers process every day makes it hard for them to retain control over their accomplishments and larger purposes. His theory is basically this: By creating an external system to track our big goals and breaking those goals down into discrete actions, we free up our minds to actually complete those actions, which, after all, get us closer to our big goals. Then we use chunks of time to think, to plan our next steps, and to adjust our courses of action.
Smalera’s article is about what all is on Barack Obama’s plate. He has too much to do – and is tackling so much of it that he does not have time to do what the Getting Things Done approach is supposed to free him up to do: think, ponder, reflect – look at the big, big picture.
It may as well be about all of us. The information overload we experience, the to-do lists that are never finished, the dozens (hundreds) of e-mails we have to answer, all add up to an avalanche of “stuff.” This stuff has to get done, and it takes hard work and a very good system to get it all done. And we have to faithfully work the system – all the time, every day, day after day, or we get truly buried in stuff.
But the bad news is that when we do get it all done, when we are supposed to be freed up to be able to think and ponder, there is not time to sit and think and ponder – there is frequently only the arrival of more stuff.
In the article, Smalera includes link to an original Getting Things Done work-flow diagram, and a diagram created to capture what is on Obama’s plate. Take a look (click the earlier links in this paragraph for larger images):
Looking at President Obama’s chart does not seem to leave much room to think and ponder. I wonder what your chart, and my chart, would look like?
The article implies that President Obama should not try to do so much “stuff.” But – the stuff needs to be done. By him, and by us, tackling our own lists. And the more stuff there is, the less time we find for the really big tasks. (And, yes, I readily acknowledge that our schedules do not hold a candle to the president’s schedule).
We live in a really, really busy time!
Recently, Slate.com ran a test on who is better informed: newspaper readers exclusively or internet readers exclusively, in its News Junkie Smackdown. The winner seemed to be neither, with both sides wanting and missing the other side’s sources. But as I read the multi-entry series, I realized how tired I felt just from the task of reading the news. I read the news constantly – as do so many of us these days. And I feel that if I miss a story, then somehow I have fallen behind in the universe. Keeping up is wearing me out.
There are other tasks that are wearing us out – I think we are a tired people, collectively. Many of my friends now work as “independents,” perpetually scrambling for the next financial possibility, feeling the pressure constantly. Those who work for large organizations are feeling the pressure also. The next round of layoffs seems to be right around the corner. (How many of us personally know someone who has been laid off?) The strain of the economy seems to fill many with a deepening, underlying, constant uncertainty – about nearly everything. And such uncertainty, such insecurity, is very, very tiring. Not to mention that financial pressures are equally very, very tiring, and many face these on a regular basis.
Are there books to help? I think so. Two that I have read, neither “new’ but both still valuable, are The Power of Full Engagement and Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Of course, everyone knows about David Allen’s best seller. An entire industry has been created providing GTD aps for the iPhonie, following Allen’s principles. He is so right that any thing that clutters the life or the mind is burden producing and burden sustaining. Getting it off of the mind and into a place where it can be retrieved when needed is critical to one’s sanity, and energy level. Here are a few key quotes:
• Almost everyone I encounter these days feels he or she has too much to handle and not enough time to get it all done.
• In the old days, you knew what work had to be done – you could see it. It was clear when the work was finished, or not finished. Now, for many of us, there are no edges to most of our projects. Most people I know have at least half a dozen things they’re trying to achieve right now, and even if they had the rest of their lives to try, they wouldn’t be able to finish these to perfection.
• “This constant, unproductive preoccupation with all the things we have to do is the single largest consumer of time and energy.” Kerry Gleeson.
• We all seem to be starved for a win.
The other book, The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, may be less well known, but it is a great and valuable companion volume for Getting Things Done. Consider these quotes:
• We live in digital time. Our rhythms are rushed, rapid fire and relentless, our days carved up into bits and bytes. We celebrate breadth rather than depth, quick reaction more than considered reflection. We skim across the surface, alighting for brief moments at dozens of destinations but rarely remaining for long at any one. We race through our lives without pausing to consider who we really want to be or where we really want to go. We’re wired up but we’re melting down. We survive on too little sleep, wolf down fast foods on the run, fuel up with coffee, and cool down with alcohol and sleeping pills. Faced with relentless demands at work…, we return home feeling exhausted and often experience our families not as a source of joy and renewal, but as one more demand in an already overburdened life.
We walk around with day planners and to-do lists; Palm Pilots and BlackBerries, instant pagers and pop-up reminders – all designed to help us manage our time better. We take pride in our ability to multitask, and we wear our willingness to put in long hours as a badge of honor. The term 24/7 describes a world in which work never ends.
• Fatigue has a cascade effect – fatigue leads to negative emotions leads to muscular tension leads to lack of focus/concentration.
• We need energy to perform, and recovery is more than the absence of work.
I realize that we are too busy to read these books about dealing with the stress of being too busy. But these quotes should whet your appetite while reminding us all that the problem of fatigue is real. It will take a lot of effort to become effortless in our work and life and emotional balance.
• You can order synopses of my presentations for both Getting Things Done and The Power of Full Engagement, at our companion web site, 15 Minute Business Books.