Sixty Percent Productivity

A friend the other day said she heard Gregg McKeown say something like: Expecting people to be productive every minute of the day is unrealistic. You can only assume 60% productivity. 

As a rule, humans are pretty bad at estimating how long project will take. A rule of thumb in construction, as I understand it, is to estimate the amount of time a project will take then multiply by two. That math lines up pretty well with the supposed Gregg McKeown quote.

Which is all to say if you think you’re working at 60% capacity, you may well be  close to working at 100%. But more, we often expect and demand far too much out of ourselves and others. It seems that It’s only when we get really honest with ourselves about what we can do consistently, and plan for that, that we begin to approach what appears to be a superhuman 110%.  

Getting really honest doesn’t mean getting draconian, overbearing, and unkind. It means observing what I do and reporting on it without judgment. Seeing what my strengths are. Seeing where I could probably get more done by not attempting to do anything. And finally, doing what seems to be a kryptonite for me—asking for help when I need it.  

It’s about Their Experience

I’ve worked as a server in restaurants to earn my living for the past twenty years. In the industry, I’ve been taught if a mistake has been made it’s a faux pas to explain to a guest that it was busy, or that the restaurant was understaffed.  It shouldn’t be the guest’s concern that the restaurant is busy.  

Part of what a guest is investing in when they make a reservation is the experience the restaurant has promised to deliver on. 

Of course restaurants get busy.  And sometimes understaffing happens.  But when something goes wrong and  I explain the circumstances which I claim caused the mistake, the focus shifts to my experience.

If something goes wrong, it’s better to do your best to connect with the guest, own up to the mistake and make amends.  

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Questioning Procrastination

What are the steps involved in doing the work? 

Get tiny. Can you go into the room? Can you sit down (if that’s required to do the project). Turn on the computer, etc. . . 

Where do you get stuck? How does it the stuck-ness manifest in your body?

You might want to note when Resistance pipes up and what it says. 

What value is resistance protecting for you? 

Is it a value you want to serve? If the answer is yes, maybe it’s time to ditch the project? 

Maybe you’d rather serve a different value and finish the project? 

Maybe there’s a negotiation you can have with the work and the project so that you can do it on more agreeable terms?

Befriending Myself

The following is an email from the past, composed on June 27, 2020. It is being delivered from the past through FutureMe.org.

Dear Future Timmy,

I’m working to look out for you better. Even now, as I write this, I’m noticing a habit I have of denigrating past Timmy.

I can imagine this letter arriving in my inbox in six weeks. Sometimes I receive an email like this and think Timmy a fool, a naif for dreaming, for being aspirational. A message like this arrives and I’m mortified. Embarrassed that past Timmy could believe some present-Tim in the future would follow through. Or would want to read these words that an angry, embarrassed future Tim may want to call drivel.

Recently, I reread Liz Gilbert talking about her stewardship of her self. How she cares for, attends to, and respects herself. She even befriends herself. Applauds herself. Hi-fives and offers joyful standing ovations for her own actions. A part of Timmy perks up his ears on high alert to danger when hearing these stories. There’s a part of Timmy that says I don’t dare do that. That part looks at other parts of Timmy and imagines they need stern words and harsh treatment if there’s any hope for Timmy to be responsible, to fit in, to be worthwhile.

I wants to experiment with Liz’s way of doing things for a while, for future Timmy’s sake. Which means I thanking past Timmy. Thank you for your hope and aspirations for me. Thank you for the reading you’ve done. Thank you for all the songs you’ve written and the people you’ve reached out to bravely. Most recently thank you, past Timmy for all the hard work you put into The Creative’s Workshop. And into training to be a coach for others, and a friend to me.

Sending my best,

-Timmy

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Transitions

The last couple days I’ve been learning a bit about transitions. Once I’m in a rhythm and working, the work is easy. Moving from one project to another is often difficult. There are lots of reasons for this.

Today, and for the last few days, one of those reasons is simply that “The Fearless Challenge,” last week required a lot of energy and focus. In short, I’ve been tired.  

Also, shifting projects and shifting focus requires energy. Any move I make that isn’t straight ahead slows me down. It’s like turning a corner to juke an opponent on the basketball court, or football field. 

When I complete a project I it’s natural to pause as well. It’s same way an athlete will usually pause after scoring a goal or making a basket, things slow down for a moment as well.  

So here I am, mid-turn on Wednesday morning, typing out a blog which would “normally” be published already and there’s a part of me feels; “I should be doing better.”  

I’m aiming to go the other way.  I’m aiming to embrace where I am and keep moving forward.  

I started working on this half-finished illustration yesterday.  A beaver in a hammock above the dam it has completed. Looking back on what I just wrote, there’s a nice meta-synergy between the illustration and the words. I also realize I’ve been sort of aiming to rest and turn a corner at the same time. Which doesn’t quiet work, does it?  

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