In tennis, there is a space on the court where you are not close enough to pick a ball off the net and not far enough back to reach a hard-hit ball. This space is called no man’s land.
You can find yourself in no man’s land in your work as well, when your next move is not clear to you or you are not in a place that allows you to move. When you are in no man’s land, the first step is to recognize that you are there. It is not a place for blame, giving up or staying still. It is a place for movement. Do what you have to to get yourself where you want to be.
photo: eugenic, pixabay.com
There is something to be said for maintaining momentum. Momentum is about movement towards something. You know what your goals are for your life and managing. To reach them requires focused attention.
Pick a significant goal you have for you or your team. How much momentum exists around it? Are you going at the pace you want? Are you satisfied with your progress? How do you create momentum? Some ways I have found useful in creating momentum include: scheduling periodic check-ins to assess progress and course-correct, if I need to; scheduling specific times to work on something; identifying when I have to schedule more time and “push” to get something done; eliminating distractions; and keeping my focus on priorities
How do you keep it going?
photo: todd quackenbush, unsplash.com
A train can be going at good speed but get nowhere if the tracks are laid out in a small circle. A train can get much further, even going at a slower speed, if the tracks are laid out to reach the train’s destination. How are your tracks laid out? Is your measure of a good day just that you and your team were busy and worked long hours? Or is your measure that your work that day was productive and moved you forward? Productive movement is more powerful in managing than just activity.
Productive movement requires a vision, goals and focus. Your destination must be clear. You also need a timeline to assure you get where you want to be, when you want to be there. Take a look at your day tomorrow, as you go through it. How much of your day is leading you to a goal and how much is activity that may need doing at some point, but does not directly move you forward to your goals? It may be that there is a lot of activity that needs to be done, but it lies on the periphery of moving you and your team forward. For example, management reports that have questionable value but have to be done, dealing with customers, clients or co-workers that drain time and energy, working on “b” priority items when critical “a” items are not done or straight – out distractions that do not serve your goals .
You may not be able to eliminate unproductive activity altogether, but you can limit it and put most of your day towards productive movement. How to limit unproductive activity? You can make only a certain amount of time available for these activities in a day. Discipline yourself to avoid distraction. Block out your calendar for the time you need to get things done. Productivity is about the rate of output per unit of labor. Make sure your output is productive and that your tracks are heading to the right destination.