6 impossible things before breakfast

How do you do so much?

I usually write about business agility, but in the last couple of days I’ve had 3 separate people ask me the same question. “How do you do so much?” - referring in large part to the fact that I’m organising a conference, writing a book, mentoring startups, transforming IBM and raising a family. So, with apologies to Douglas Adams and Lewis Carroll, I thought I would take the opportunity to describe the 6 impossible things I do before breakfast everyday (well, most days).

  1. Reduce my email to zero: A lot has been written about Inbox Zero and I won’t repeat what’s already out there. But each morning, I go through my work, personal and LinkedIn email accounts and clear the inbox. Google Inbox helps a lot there, especially with the ability to snooze emails.
  2. Reconnect with at least 3 friends: I know a lot of people who treat LinkedIn like Pokemon Go - gotta catch them all. On the other-hand, I think that my professional (and personal) relationships have value, so I make sure I reach out to at least 3 people every day who I haven’t spoken with for a while - just to say hi and see what they’re doing.
  3. Thank people from yesterday: Depending on how yesterday went, I’ll send out thank you’s to people I’ve worked with. It might be a simple thank you for having a meeting with me, or a thank you for helping me out. I find it helps reinforce promises and “actions” that I have taken on, and stops me from getting too wrapped up in my own stuff.
  4. Practice drawing: I truly believe that you need to be a beginner at something at all stages of your life. For me, this year, I have started to teach myself drawing and visual facilitation. I used to be one of those people who thought they couldn’t draw. However, 9 months in and I’m not ashamed to draw in public so something must be working.
  5. Conference: The final two are topics and activities that I’m passionate about. The first of these is organising the Business Agility 2017 conference. If you read my blog, this shouldn’t be a surprise to you. I always make sure to spend at least 30 minutes every morning on this (and because it’s in NYC and I’m in Singapore, usually an hour after 9pm as well).
  6. Write: The second of my personal activities is my book on #noprojects. My goal is to write and/or edit 500 words per day. I’ll be honest and say that I rarely meet that goal, but my co-author and I are up to 20k words, so we’re not doing too badly.

My tool of choice is Toodledo. I use a combination of recurring tasks and their habit tracker to embed these behaviours. The only behaviour that’s missing is exercise - I wish I could say that I do that every morning as well, but I still haven’t figured out how to include that in my routine. But I’m working in it.

While none of these may be truly impossible (and I don’t always do it before breakfast), by keeping my WIP in check and making sure I turn each of these into a habit, I have become a lot more productive.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Milliway’s for breakfast.