Self Regulation

Lately I’ve been feeling that there are a LOT of things that I should be doing, and I’ve tried stepping-up the number of tasks I’ve been taking on at the same time. However, I’m sad t report, the net result has been a feeling of being scatterbrained as I leap clumsily from project to project. “A hah! I just need to make leaps that are EASIER for me!” I told myself, and thus began a series of experiments to find the optimum timeslice for my multi-tasking. This is the period of time that I can get the most work done before switching.

I’ve come to the realization that it’s not so much the duration of the timeslice that’s important—it’s avoiding distractions from other thoughts. Othe surface, the distractions seem at least equally as important compared to the task at hand. For example, I may remember that I need to remind a client to prepare some materials for a deadline. Or, someone will call me and we’ll have a brief but important conversation, from which spawn multiple other tasks. Then of course there’s the daily blog maintainance, ideas for interesting products, and social obligations. The result: I end up multitasking between my main task, and a myriad of subtasks. This is not good.

Coping with Multitasking

Multitasking, as Joel Spolsky and Kathy Sierra have postulated, tend to have a detrimental effect on efficiency. Joel uses a computational task switching model borrowed from computer science, while Kathy uses a more intuitive / zen approach that’s centered around mindfulness. While I can understand what they’re saying intellectually, in my case it’s coping with the pressures to everything done ASAP that’s the problem. The easiest thing to do to cope with a distraction is to let yourself be distracted; it’s an immediate release of the itchy thought. It’s sooooo easy to let yourself be distracted, rationalizing the action as being “responsive to the client”, or “proactive in anticipating a project need”, or “taking the opportunity as it became available.” These are actual values, too, that are valued by people in general. The result, though, is that you spend a lot of time spinning plates and not a lot of time stacking them into usable piles of results.

In a traditional producer / production model, like what you might find in an interactive agency, there are people who handle the interaction between people (producers / account managers) and the people who focus on getting things done (designers and developers). As a freelancer, I have to take on both roles. I’m not even including the new business mode, strategic development, and accounting modes I have to put myself into.

I’ve probably made this more difficult because I’m trying to apply this production model to myself. It is time that I put some hard rules in place to maintain my sanity, though I don’t like any of them:

  • Say No.
  • Be unavailable while you are working
  • Take the work only when you have time to do it
  • Work one one thing at a time until it’s done
  • Accept that variability in production time is unavoidable at this stage
  • Don’t take opportunities as they arise, no matter how tempting they are, until you finish what you’re doing

Each of these principles, if I put them into practice, will likely result in me getting more work done. Each of these principles also violates my sense of customer service, but perhaps I’m looking at it the wrong way. While I’d love to be able to say yes to every project that comes my way, meticulously estimate how long things take, and be able to jump on every opportunity that sashays by, it’s something I may not be able to do at this stage. I feel that I should be able to, but I may be deluding myself.

There are three ways to increase my “output per time-unit”:

  1. I could increase my processing power (hiring people, get smarter or more experienced)
  2. I could focus on higher yield tasks (the Printable CEO™-related forms fall in this category)
  3. I could focus my energy on one task at a time, gaining the productivity yields as Kathy and Joel have mentioned.

I have, to now, tried to implement 1 and 2.

  • As far as increasing processing power, I’ve gotten a little smarter and more experienced, and I’m starting to find people to work with. However, until I am able to manage myself better, adding additional people isn’t likely to help, and there’s a limit to how fast I can get get as a single person. This is, I’m realizing, something of a dead end at the moment.

  • As far as focusing just on the higher yield tasks, this is also impossible because of the number of hats I have to wear. I can perhaps focus on the the benefit-generating tasks more, but there are still many many tasks that have to get done anway. This is what you’d call “overhead” in a business; administration, non-billable business development hours, research, and so on. I actually need to regulate the amount of time I’m spending on this.

  • As far as focusing my energy, this is something that’s been tough. With the multitasking going on, focus is fleeting. I could do some time-shifting so the administrative tasks are in the morning, and I reset to do production at night (bi-phasic sleep, for example). However, a new constraint is the desire to maintain a healthy social life with people in the area, so I’m finding that I’m swinging back toward the 9-5 hours. Learning to be focused in that time period is going to be important.

<

p>So it’s time to accept my limits. I’m not a superman, darn it. But I can find out what I am doing, and accept that doing that one thing well is perfectly fine. And sometimes, it’s going take me more time than I would like, and maybe that’s OK too.

Focusing on Personal Benchmarking

So how much can I do anyway? Up to now, I’ve been thinking of myself as a “company of one”, but I haven’t actually defined what that means in raw production numbers. The truth is that I’m a single person trying to get a lot of work done, and while I’m up front about that with my clients, I haven’t been realistic with myself with regards to how quickly I can work. I wish I could maintain an extremely rapid pace of development, but I actually don’t know how fast is fast. It’s time to re-benchmark myself and see how long it REALLY takes me to do things under real-life working conditions, and stop worrying about everyone else.

When you benchmark a computer system to determine how much processing power it has, you generally test one subsystem at a time, and then the system as a whole. If I wanted to find out how long it takes me to build a website, then by Jove I need to be focusing just on that. If I haven’t built a particular type of website before, then the process is going to take longer and I should consider that an initial timing pass. And you know what? I shouldn’t worry about how long it’s going to take. It’s going to take time that I wish it didn’t. That’s going to be the baseline, and hopefully the next run through will be possible.

Focusing on Self Regulation

Just the other day I was catching up on Senia – Positive Psychology Blog and came across these fascinating ideas:

Self-regulation is your personality process to exert control over your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

and

[…] if you do ANYTHING that requires self-regulation, then that makes it EASIER for you to have self-regulation in EVERYTHING.

This is promising. This means if I focus on a single task at a time, I’m not only exercising my “self regulation” muscle, but I’m also building strength for focus on all areas of my life. That’s very encouraging. As I mentioned before, I am feeling that there are many things going on, almost all positive, that needs addressing now! I don’t feel good that they’re not getting done. However, I can take some comfort knowing that if I focus on just getting one of them done, it may pay off for all of them. In other words, by focusing on one thing, I am addressing all of them. It’s a tricky perspective, but I like tricks. The difference is that getting that one thing done is not a trick.

I should pick one thing to focus on for self-regulation habit building, and I think it will be reducing the delay between thought and action. If I think an “I should be doing…” thought, I should immediately move into “do” mode and blot out all other inputs as much as possible, for at least one or two hours. That will be quite a trick if I can do that.

So what am I saying?

  1. There are limits to what I can accomplish in a given amount of time.
  2. So find out just how fast I am through personal benchmarking, and don’t worry about how fast other people are.
  3. Focus on doing one thing at a time, because I’ll get a more accurate picture of how long that one thing takes.
  4. Purposefully regulate myself. This covers both mindful execution of the single task at a time, and in accepting distractions, new tasks, and new goals.
  5. In picking a habit to practice regulating, I will focus on reduce the delay between thought and action.

The image that came to mind as I typed that up was that I was architecting my own continuity as an entity with its own desires and goals. Right now, my continuity is determined largely by what others would like me to do. The combination of Groundhog Day Resolutions and this insight is one that I’ll be thinking and acting on this week.

My gut feeling is that this is going to be really hard for me to do, so we’ll see how it goes. Even a partial success would be quite illuminating.

20 Comments

  1. Styleygeek 9 years ago

    I have found it extremely helpful to have a blank piece of paper next to me whenever I’m working and to use it to jot down distractions as they appear.  By the end of the morning’s work, I have a piece of paper that says, for example:

    “Check when tax return is due”
    “Post letter to K. by 6pm”
    “Google: Why do antelopes have horns?”
    “Google: When is cheap movie night in Amsterdam?”
    “Call J. about tonight”
    “Maybe I should write a best-selling novel next Tuesday.”

    etc.

    I then process these things (and do most of them) in my lunch-break.  Getting the distraction down on paper means I can stop worrying about it and keep focused on the task in hand.

  2. y0mbo 9 years ago

    I agree with Styleygeek.  I use a custom adaptation of the ETP and small distractions go in the notes area.  The ones that are worth doing end up in a notebook I use for all of my tasks.  Some distracting thoughts, like “Whatever happened to that guy from that show?” may not even be worth looking into further and get ignored.  I find it is better to write these down for later processing even if they end up getting discarded.

  3. Peter Flaschner 9 years ago

    Dave – about two years ago, I ran into the same wall you’re facing now. “I’m only one person – how can I get this all done?” I took a different approach to solve that dilemma.

    I looked at what I was doing, and recognized that there were aspects of my job that I loved, and aspects that I was less fond of. I decided to find a partner who actually liked doing the stuff I didn’t.

    It was scary to give up a portion of my business. But I realized that the benefits (being able to concentrate on the work I enjoy doing, overall increase in productivity (1+1=3), etc) outweighed the downside.

    Two years later, I’m really happy with the outcome. I’d be lying if I said it was an easy transition. But I intend to be in this game for a long time, and I’m now in a position where I can do what I’m best at, and avoid a lot of the necessary distraction of running a business.

    It’s a big jump from solo freelancer to partnership, but when one considers the (selfish) benefits, it can certainly be worth the risk.

  4. Wade Winningham 9 years ago

    All great comments so far. I agree. I’ve gotten in the habit of using my 37Signals Backpack account as my running to-do list but pen and paper work great, too.  Backpack is great because even if it’s a simple shopping list, I have it all there.  It is generic enough that any info I have from personal to business can get on a list.

  5. Fred 9 years ago

    Dave,
    (Doh, I may have stuck too many weird ideas in your brain! (not likely.))

    I second Peter’s sentiment.  It seems like you’re chewing up A LOT.  Hmm, let’s analyze Dave’s jobs: Kickass web work, kickass graphic work, writing actually in depth, clear, salient blog posts longer than 200 words on a daily basis, generating great time planning worksheets of all varieties for those of us who crazily consume them, oh yeah, and doing the business side of your business which means,, selling, promoting, all those crazy money things, don’t forget eating and sleeping, and if you get around to it, fun.

    As you know Dave, most of us reading your work are doing the double triple life thing too.  One bit I’ve come across recently, mainly due to the fact that I’m working on my own projects to get them patented. I do as much as I can at a practical level, then I bring in professionals to finish what I neither have the time, inclination, or professional skill to accomplish in a rational amount of time.  Your time is very valuable, and it must be held to such standards (already I think you probably have the most well defined time on the planet, super bowl halftime shows notwithstanding). So you can easily analyze what your time is worth.

    So yeah, I don’t know where you sit moneywise, but it seems there are a bunch of people on your site that you can readily look to as sources that do a million different things, put a call out for quotes, ask friends on things that you’d rather rip your arms out than do. Price them out, and see if they can truly save that time so you can truly focus on what makes your work so outstanding.

    I just realized I have concluded my speech as Tom Peters.  Tune in next week when I do Tom Selleck!

    “Duck T.C.!”

    as always, a stellar post Dave!

  6. Dave Seah 9 years ago

    wow, amazing comments!

    styleygeek: I use a variation of this by keeping a ToDo text file open, using it to make simple entries. It keeps my continuity, and yes, I find it also helps me not worry about things that I might forget. I think there’s another stage of not worrying I need to get to…maybe it’s not worrying about the TIDE of things to do. I can very easily overwhelm a piece of paper and even a todo lists with all those things, so I’ve stopped writing everything down except those things that I need to do right now. I’ve also shifted reminders to Google Calendar, and am relying on the morning agenda and reminders to help trigger memory of “real world” events. I’ve started using it to pre-schedule blocks of time to do thing…we’ll see how that goes.

    y0mbo: That’s really interesting, how you move the “worth doing” tasks into another notebook. I love that idea! I may have to swipe that for something :-)

    Peter: Yes! That’s exactly the conclusion I’m coming to, and now that you mention it I think I am at the beginning of that transition period. I have a plan to create some kind of freelance marketplace thing that I think will help me find and meet the right people, but I might be overthinking the prerequisites. I think I’ll schedule an hour of time to work on it on Thursday and see what happens.

    Wade: I should give BackPack another look. I’m actually using BaseCamp, which I think has the BackPack functionality in it. I’ve actually not enjoyed using it that much, though, because frankly my text editor is a lot faster. Some of the collaborative editing editors might be the way to go, or I should just get off my butt and make the online todo list I want. Yet another project! Sigh! :-)

    Fred: You know, it never occured to me that a lot of my readers are doing the double-triple life thing! Is that true? Hm! Anyway, I think I’m constrained by the following:

    <ul>
    <li>Satisfaction. I appreciate that you like my web and design work, but I am almost never happy with either how fast I’m working or how it’s coming out. It’s a source of frustration, and draining. However I love thinking of ways of attacking things and figuring out how things ought to work. I think you and Peter are suggesting that I find other people to do those frustrating parts…maybe that means I outsource my design. I’ve been looking locally for this kind of talent (in-the-room people energy is super important to me, and if I don’t have it I much rather work alone). If there was a way of doing it remotely I would consider that.</li>
    <li>Money. I’m just getting myself to the point where I can derive a stream of revenue, thanks to the foundation that’s been laid by the stuff I have enjoyed doing: writing/blogging/productivity here on the website. It’s opened doors. As I write this I realize that the main block really is the lack of people, again. Which is why it’s #1 on my list of things to fix. And if I’m honest with myself, I haven’t REALLY made a concerted effort to canvas the area. I really don’t know anyone locally who “gets” what I do, and/or has the right blend of interest, attitude, and talent. I’ve been more active socially (this is partially a fun thing) to expand that network slowly.</li>
    </ul>

    Hm, I guess that’s the main things. Thanks, Higgins! :-)

  7. Peter Flaschner 9 years ago

    Dave – you hit the nail on the head in your comment above when you used the word “locally”. I really struggled with this too. In the end, I did connect with someone in town, but for all intents and purposes we could be 1000s of miles apart; with the exception of twice daily status calls, our workflow is entirely digital. I’ve never met a couple of the developers I work with on a near daily basis.

    My clients aren’t local, so face to face isn’t a big requirement of my work. If it’s not for yours, I say cast a wider net.

  8. Fred 9 years ago

    NO,, don’t source out your design!!!
    I simply meant the un-fun things,, I didn’t get the impression you liked the accounting, tax data, bookkeeping, and other business minutia.
    Not for one moment would I suggest you let others do your design work (sorry for suggesting that!)  I meant to get that other stuff out the door so you can focus on your design work.
    I’m with you on the satisfaction thing!!

  9. Eileen 9 years ago

    Not to jump up-and-down and yell ME ME ME, but my partner and I are local!  Well, pretty close to local, at least.  We’re up north, in Littleton.  If part of your network will involve local-but-not-next-door people, we’d love to be a part of it.

    I agree with Fred: don’t outsource your design!! (Unless, of course, you don’t like doing it.)  Definitely keep doing the stuff you like best.

  10. Dan 9 years ago

    David Alan wrote a good book called Getting Things Done. Talks about writing things down, and feeling confident that when you need something, you’ll have it. Thus, you don’t get distracted worrying about other things and you can concentrate on the task at hand. It doesn’t have me humming along yet, and I’ve not followed all his advice yet, but it has at least decreased a lot of my stress worrying about things.

  11. Hoi 9 years ago

    Keep a To-do list. I keep a to-don’t list.

  12. Jeremy Curry 9 years ago

    Hey Dave, I suggest you read Mentored by a Millionaire by Steven K Scott. It teaches some awesome practical things about how to effectively use your assets and build partnerships to achieve more than just possible goals, but achieve impossible dreams for yourself. I’ve become much happier with myself, and done so much more since I started, and finished reading it not too long ago.

  13. Dana 9 years ago

    I’ve struggled with this as well.

    The first part of the solution was getting a business partner. I ended up meeting my business partner at a networking event – I didn’t even really know I needed one until we realized how well we worked together.

    The second part was to go to my core competency – as a project manager – and hire on more subcontractors. I tried to work locally at first, but I find that if someone’s really talented and great to work with, the distance doesn’t honestly matter.

    It’s made a huge difference to the way we do business.

  14. Rick Allen 9 years ago

    I’m in the yOmbo category with a custom ETP (already shared via email).

    Despite the privilege of having Acrobat I print the form. Paper doesn’t crash and doesn’t distract either. But I do use your beta online ETP by activating it as a web desktop background on my xp pc (unshow the desktop icons, too – after all you’re working). That ritual keeps my head down on the task at hand long enough to make serious progress and raising my head to pop the bubbles gives me positive feedback.

    It’s cruel, but I can’t help wondering whether some of your IT escapades should have been confined to the pickle jar.
    You’re just too plain smart for your own good :-)

  15. Bill Westerman 9 years ago

    Hey, nice read.  You might want to consider my take on the whole Getting XYZ Done meme.  The full-on GTD was too much for me, so I’ve put together a relatively lightweight approach on my site at utilware.com.  It’s all about creating a quick list in the morning, and tending to it through the day.

    It’s at utilware.com/gsd3.html.  Enjoy!

  16. Dave Seah 9 years ago

    Peter: That’s a good point, to cast a wider net. I’ve been thinking I need local peeps because I like working in the same room as people. I think I need it from an energy perspective, and then I can branch out to remote. That’s my thinking, anyway.

    Fred: There might be parts I would like to outsource (maybe implementation) based on the problem solving. I like the problem solving, but need to work with people to get the implementation done otherwise it’s a huge drag.

    Eileen: We should meet and see what local designer stuff we have going on here in the Granite State!

    Dan: I’m familiar with the GTD book…I think my issue might be the sheer number of distractions I have to deal with being actually impossible to get out of the way…hence the pacing!

  17. Dave Seah 9 years ago

    Jeremy: Thanks for the book recommendation! It sounds very interesting. I did once read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and it introduced me to some ideas that I actually think are important (the whole idea of building concrete assets, for example, and what “wealth” is). I’d be interested in reading someone else’s take on it.

    Dana: Yah, that sounds like something I could use, some kind of business partner. How did you know when you found one?

    Rick: Heh, I sometimes wonder the same thing. However, the main reason I keep releasing them all is to see which ideas take wind and which flop. The main point of the forms for me, I think, is the act of sharing an interesting idea. They don’t get out there if they’re just in the pickle jar. Thanks for spinning it as being clever, though…I appreciate it :-)

    Bill: I’ll check that out when I have some time…thanks for the link!

  18. Shirley Chase 9 years ago

    Interesting discussion. I’m another “Company of One”. Our challenges are a bit different. The usual advice of “concentrate your efforts on those things only you can do and delegate the rest” doesn’t work. If that floor’s gonna get swept, it’ll be me sweeping it.

    Expansion (employees, partners) is one strategy to meet the challenge. I’ve had both. My experience has been that you don’t gain as much time as you think you will with employees. You find yourself spending a lot of time in the role of supervisor. And you face a lot more distractions and interruptions.

    As for partners, I’ve never found one that I was really comfortable with. A partnership also takes quite a bit of time to maintain.

    So, for me and for now, I’ve decided to stay solo. I’ve cut my business hours to what I can realistically support and I’m getting my operation as streamlined as I can. (Maybe some outsourcing …?)

    Anyway, the question is: How do you get down to business and concentrate with all the varied demands all around you?

    I think that first and foremost you have to have your own system for knowing that: (1) what you’re doing is indeed what you ought to be doing, and (2) any urgent details have been taken care of (i.e., they’re not going to turn off your electricity while you’re deep in creative concentration on your masterpiece).

    When you feel secure that you’re “on top of it” you can relax and totally commit to what you’re doing.

    What seems to be working for me is an adapted Steven Covey system for deciding in a weekly planning session what is important. Then I use a GTD-type “HipsterPDA” (index card planner system) to work out details of how to go about it. Finally, I use the Printable CEO forms to decide when I can fit tasks in. That has been a great reality check for me!

    It was that last step that really brought the process to life for me. (Thank you for that, David!) Now when I sit down to do Task 1 and that bothersome thought creeps in, “Maybe I should be working on Task 2 …” I can look at my Emergent Task Planner on its stand next to the monitor.

    “No,” I tell myself firmly, “That’s already been decided. Task 2 is to be done from 2:00 to 4:00 tomorrow.” And back to work with a clear conscience.

    After achieving a solid commitment to a task, there are several tricks I’ve found useful in sticking to task. (I need all the help I can get!)

    <ol>
    <li>Idea Capture Device—
    As has been mentioned by several people, some kind of a capture device to deal with distracting thoughts that pop up is indispensable. I have a little pocket notepad as my primary device. Then I have a small digital recorder as the secondary one. If the notepad is handy the idea goes directly to it. If not, the recorder is on a lanyard around my neck. In that case, the note goes from the recorder to the notepad. Then from the notepad items get put into the HipsterPDA, project files, tickler file, … wherever.</li>
    <li>Focus Reminder—
    I stick a Post-It with the name of my task in big letters somewhere right in front of my nose. That means that for the time being I’m supposed to be thinking of that thing and ONLY that thing. It brings my mind back when it wanders.</li>
    <li>Know the Limits of the Task—
    When you set the task, don’t just say “I’m going to work on such-and-such.” It’s either work on it for a set time or until a predetermined output. (“Until finished” doesn’t work unless you’ve defined “finished” very clearly.) When you start, write down your intentions.</li>
    <li>Make Yourself Take Breaks—
    When I manage to get into that magical creative hyper-concentration, I lose track of time. If I do take a break, sometimes I can’t get that state back. But if I don’t, I’ll keep going until the health suffers. So sometimes I set an alarm.</li>
    <li>Work Somewhere Else—
    With the technology we have now, I’ll bet there aren’t many people who have to be chained to their desks. This is the area where the “Company of One” shines. I can work where and when I darned well feel like it. (Well, up to a point anyway … )</li>
    </ol>

    There is a particular shade tree at our local park under which I can sit in my minivan looking out over a calm lake with fresh air flowing through the open windows. With my PDA and external keyboard I can do my email, write whatever needs to be written, and feel a sense of renewal. (I also find I can concentrate very well sitting in Burger King … go figure!)

    I hope some of these thoughts will be of use to you, David, in your quest and to the rest of us too. It’s really hard to figure out how to be more productive but still live your life at the same time.

  19. Lynn O'Connor 9 years ago

    Dave:
    Its uncanny how close you come to hitting on exactly what I need to read and think about. About 1:30 AM I woke my husband up, freaking out about how I can’t get anything done because people are dragging on me all day and well into the night. Then, having gotten nothing done all day except meet with clients, answer emails, deal with very demanding students, some or even many of whom think they can get their doctoral degree without doing much work and whom tend to get furious when I tell them they have to read a whole lot more or rewrite or whatever, deal with adult children who still have problems I’m supposed to solve, deal with friends who I love but who seem more pathetic by the day, respond to emails about the program I teach in…by the end of the day, I often have to see yet more clients or have long phone conversations with them. Tonight I wasn’t done until close to midnight, I tried to focus on my GTD lists, my new computer got screwy on me, and finally after trying to fix it numerous time I walked into our bed room where my husband was sleeping peacefully and started yelling, almost on the top of my lungs, I suppose expressing the feeling of panic, waking him up so he could hear me announce “I’ve had it, I can’t stand it, I can’t do it, I’m canceling everyone for two weeks” (before and after I go to a three day conference on learning and the brain, this time not to present but to learn if you can imagine that kind of self-indulgence. I told him I didn’t care how much money I lost, or whether I lost some dissertation students, I can’t get anything done, and all I’m doing is serving people all day long. What then happens is I literally stay up all night because it is the only time I’m not being directly hounded (except by email). By the time of my freak-out, it was hopeless to GTD and i decided to relax, meaning go read David Seah, little did I know that I would feel less alone in my endless if mercenary give give give. Saint Lynn.

    My problem is just what you laid out so clearly. I have to:
    1) Learn to say no without feeling guilty all the time.
    2) Learn to say no even if I feel guilty.
    3) learn to tolerate guilt better, that’s what I tell my patients to do. Why can’t I do it myself?
    4) I went to hear Allen this week, he was in S.F., and though this felt like the ultimate self-indulgence, I did it anyway, He kept telling his adoring audience (including me) “pay attention to what you are paying attention to.”
    5) Pay better attention to what I’m paying attention to.
    6) Cool out on a bit of my new pseudo geekiness. Forget about learning to code. It may be nothing to all of you who already know how to write code and do so for a living, its another for someone who doesn’t know how to write code, and furthermore has to sit listening to people all day. meaning;
    7) use my computer(s) as a TOOL, not as an end in and of itself.
    8) ENOUGH studying productivity, get productive. Use your PCEO forms as my PCEO (by the way, for whatever reason I’m into MOD, and I hope you update it even if others prefer Emergent task planning.
    10) I’m stymied by planning. I don’t do it, I’m interrupted too much every day. I didn’t pick up my voice mail for three days and there were 45 messages on it. That’s too much.
    11)PLAN. Learn to plan. Dave, how can I learn to plan. I’m turning into a misanthrope.
    12) Learn to Plan right now (well I can do that now, its almost 4:30 AM, so I’m just going to stay up and do what I should have done two days ago but no one left me alone long enough.
    13) Do the work I love most, and just do it, don’t let anyone interrupt me as much as they have been.

    Everyone, thank you for the great ideas, Dave than you as always for hitting the nail right on the head so to speak. It really was uncanny given the insane fit I threw at 1AM SF time. Sometimes when you admit you stayed up all night and slept in the AM I think “why don’t I call Seah and see if he can help me, even if he can’t help himself, he’s probably up stewing over design (and i agree, please don’t shelve the design, its almost keeping me cheerful, its hanging up, taped to the walls all over my house including in my home office. I figure it is good for my patients/clients/students to see me in action. Maybe everyone will get the idea.

    One more comment—as I said I went to the S.F. David Allen Road Show, GTD luxury fo rme all the way. It was great. I told a lot of people about you, about my students using the PCEOs etc. Afterwards some of us met in a local sushi bar to wind down, and as usual I was speaking about your work, and someone said “DAVID SEAH! He’s an absolute genius.” I smiled, let me tell you, and you should to. Recognition is super important, although in the end it leads to more taking care of others, and obligations, and it gets hard for me anyway, to pay attention to what has my attention.Back to #3, learn to tolerate guilt.

    LynnOC

  20. Stella Commute 9 years ago

    All of these folks are spot on. There is this mix of self-discipline (not seeking out distraction) and working your way toward a place of personal power (being able to restrict your legitimate workload to a reasonable level). I think so many people are in a place where they seem to not get things done because there is simply far too much to do. I find that approaching an insurmountable pile o’ work is like any other truly daunting task: start at the edge and work as hard as you can. Either you make significant progress, or you see how you can do it differently/better, or you realize that the task really is several tasks that can be accomplished in some other manner, or you keep plugging away at it.

    A friend in college came up with an unbeatable truism: If you do the work, it gets done.

A message from Dave:

I really believe we all benefit when we share our own perspectives on common experiences. It would be great if you added your own anecdotes and comments, even if you don't necessarily agree with the premise of the post; that's just good conversation in my book. The house rules are "treat each other with kindness and respect" and "enjoy the flow of ideas!"

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