Occasionally I’ll imagine being in corporate life again.
It’s usually a fleeting thought, for I quickly switch back to counting present blessings, but it does reoccur, and to be completely truthful, I always imagine being in charge! My wish to take over normally arises when I’m getting frustrated by certain bad work habits I see in the workplaces I visit; simple fixes not taken, and often because no one realizes those habits are so insidious — left unchecked, they can snowball into a dysfunctional work culture.
So I try to be empathetic instead, and I coach more, and gently. I suggest testing the new tools I’ve learned to use since I left that work world, for they’ve been working so wonderfully within our OIB (‘Ohana in Business) work cultures of Managing with Aloha.
The Interruption List
One of those tools, learned in the very early days of my starting Say Leadership Coaching, helped me enormously in keeping focused on the right things at the right time, for I built my business at the same time I was writing MWA and figuring out how to get it published as a first-time author. The ‘tool’ was paper and pencil, and learning the simple discipline of keeping track of any and all interruptions on a scratchpad I kept at hand while I was supposed to be working.
SIDEBAR: Credit for the Interruption List goes to Paul and Sarah Edwards, for I discovered their working at home bible, Secrets of Self-Employment; Surviving and thriving on the Ups and Downs of Being Your Own Boss, while trolling the shelves at Borders Bookstore one day. It was one of the first books I’d ever bought to retrain myself with a newer, more entrepreneurial mindset, and it illuminated all the bad habits and traps you can easily fall into while working from home.
The distractions which cause us to stall and procrastinate occur everywhere of course, whether we work in the office, at home, or remotely: What we need to fix, is the shakey hold we have on our own attention.
I was amazed at how long my list could be when the day was over — long, embarrassing, and just plain dumb!
My Interruption List delivered two kinds of aha! magic: It illuminated bad habits which previously were invisible, and it helped me create far better ones. Instead of getting up for a drink of water a zillion times, I began to keep an insulated bottle of iced water at my desk. I turned off my email alert bell, and when that still didn’t work for me I turned off my web access altogether.
My Interruption List has consistently delivered as my work variables changed: I still use it. When I’m working with new people, I log down their questions every time they knock on my door (or ping me on my ‘virtual office hour’ chat), and I’m able to discern why recurring queries continually come up (which are different from good questions). I catch on to why certain interruptions are actually red flags, like when I was the one who forgot to pass on critical information! I stop adding complexity, in favor of replacing.
There are times the stark emptiness of my list is telling too: Time flew by, because I was in the zone, and work was amazing that day! I’ll ask myself why, and if it was a strength on fire, for if so, it’s a time framing I want to duplicate more often, setting myself up for more frequent successes.
Signal or noise?
Interruption used to be a negative word in my vocabulary, but not anymore: It asks, signal or noise?
It might still be the noise of process newness of some kind, but when you track it, and evaluate it, distracting interruption becomes a signal you interpret, and then act on. You intercept bad habits, and cut them off at the pass. You disrupt your automatic pilot, wake up some sacred cows and put them out to pasture.
Try turning your negatives with these words into positives: Distract, Interrupt, Intercept, Disrupt. All it takes is paper and pencil at first, but wow, the signals can wake up your focus and productivity in an amazing way.
Did you catch this on Ho‘ohana Aloha? Breakthrough-your-business Word for the Day: Disrupt.
And we’ve only been talking productivity here (well, mostly)” imagine how these words might alter your radar in managing others when converted to the proactive coaching interruption of a positive expectancy…