So Much To Do - The Characteristics of Effective People

I think a lot about motivation these days.

I think a lot about motivation these days. What makes someone like me motivate themselves to occupy every waking hour with productive creativity. In my case, whether it’s finding innovative ways to raise my daughter, running the Business Agility Institute, organising the next business agility conference or writing my #noprojects book, I must be creating something.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier articles, I have a hugely supportive family. My wife carries a lot of the mental load (although over the last year, we’ve learnt how to share that more equally) and that support provides a space that enables me to be creative and productive. But it’s the ability to maximise that space that I want to talk about today. I think that there are three characteristics of highly productive and creative people that make this possible. Passion, Time Management and Delegation.

On Passion:

People often say, “do what you love”! But I think that’s the wrong attitude. Doing what you love is no guarantee of a job, financial security or even a sense of purpose. Rather I turn it around. “Love what you do”! That’s more important. Find the passion in your job and in your life. Find those little tweaks that make it amazing. For me that’s surrounding myself with amazing people. You can see that in the hundreds of fantastic people who are working to make the Business Agility Institute a success. It’s also turning conversations and opportunities towards what you love – in my case business agility. A recent example – when I was working with IBM, I was brought into a conversation with the CIO of one of our clients to talk about agile development. I ended up having an entire conversation about supply chain re-engineering (I have strange interests).

Loving what you do means turning a job into a passion. It means remaining true to the business outcomes that the organisation expects of you, but changing the “how” and “what” to those activities that can keep you motivated.

On Time Management:

Being able to manage your time is critical. I spent most of last year raising my daughter in Singapore while my wife worked in Australia. During those months, I had 4 hours to myself each day. 2 hours before my daughter woke up and 2 hours after she went to bed. That’s it. I needed to make sure I used that time effectively. I was laser focused so I did what I needed to do. Sometimes that’s writing. Sometimes that’s reviewing conference papers. And sometimes that’s relaxing - to take the time off and recharge. I try to only do those activities which are important at that point in time. However, I can’t only focus on the interesting and important activities. I still need to take care of the day-to-day hygiene activities. Going through my email (inbox zero FTW), connecting & networking with people, preparing for the day ahead with my daughter. Using a combination of repeating to-do list and a habit tracker, these activities are carefully timed and scheduled so they get done each day (well, most days to be honest). I even have a folder of bookmarks called “New Day” that is one of the first things I open each morning. I go through, do what needs to be done, and close them one-by-one until tomorrow.

On Delegation:

Habits screenshot Finally, delegation. Where possible, I delegate anything I don’t want to do. Housework (cleaning & cooking), basic research & scheduling (thank you FancyHands), even complex visual work & prototyping (thank you fiverr). My time (and your time) is valuable. If someone else can do a decent job, let them. It might not be as good as you can do, but is it acceptable? And the more you delegate, the better you get at delegating (it’s a skill that needs to be learned) and the better they get at meeting your expectations.

I hope this makes sense. I believe that there is so much we can accomplish in this life if we just make it happen.