Awesome Conferences

Who to trust?

We are two people. The person that calmly makes plans and the person that executes them. The first person is calm and thoughtful and has the right amount of doubt to make sure a plan will work. The second person rushes to judgement and is full of hubris. "What was I thinking! I can do it more/better/differently." is what the second person says. The second person often forgets how much work went into the planning or the rationale for why things were set in a particular order.

If an outside knows of the plan, it can confuse things if the second person "optimizes" the plan leaving those other people out of the loop. The second person often thinks they're the only one that knows the plan, but often they are forgetting someone.

I've had to learn that if someone in my todo list is marked as being in a specific order, I should "trust the plan" and follow it... against the recommendation of that second person.

A friend of mine recently said her plan in the morning involved seeing her son off on a trip then getting 4 things done at home. What happened was she made a last-minute decision to drive him to the event personally, which meant a series of problems including some delays that prevented those 4 things from getting done.

Why didn't she listen to that person that, the night before, carefully constructed a good plan?

I do a lot of volunteer work and often we spend a lot of time working on a plan and later when executing the plan people will start to make changes. This brings up all the "second person" problems but at an even bigger scale. You'll often hear me saying, "Trust the process" over and over.

Once we were stuffing envelopes for a big mailing. It was a rather complicated project creating 3000 pieces to be mailed. Previously we had ended up in a situation where we ended up with 2000 properly stuffed, labeled, and stamped envelopes plus 1000 envelopes that just had stamps, and a different 1000 envelopes that were stuffed and had address labels stuck on them. We stuff the envelopes; only stuffed envelopes get labels, and only labeled envelopes get stamps. Three assembly lines, one that feeds the next. If you notice, the order also reflects the cost-of-replacement: stamps are expensive so you don't want to put them on until you know the envelope is otherwise prepared. When you run out of contents, no more stamps are consumed.

Sometimes the labeling process was the bottleneck and someone outside the planning process would "help" by labeling empty envelopes. They don't realize the potential problem they are causing, or the confusion.

Every morning I do my "5 minutes of planning". I look at my calendar then check my todo list for the day. I re-arrange my todo list, often pushing things around to be in priority order. I do this on the train so it is ready when I get to work. By the time I get working on stuff I've often forgotten the rationale for the order things are in, so I've had to train myself to "trust the process" and do the tasks in the order "the other me" proscribed.

Because if I don't do that, I end up spending the morning writing a blog post instead of working on my todo list. And that can disorient my entire day.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Time Management

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Wow, the envelope stuffing story brought back BAD memories... in a previous life, I worked at an e-commerce company and on the few peak days right before the end of the holiday season, it was "all hands on deck" in the warehouse, even IT hands. What I witnessed was staggering. The idiot sales manager walking around telling everyone they needed to "help" but NO coordination was happening and what they ended up with was hundreds of excess FedEx boxes assembled and not enough of others... it would have been more useful if someone would have just picked up a freaking broom and swept up spilled packing pellets, but no! Let me tell you, ten zombies without a plan can stack a lot of empty boxes in no time flat.

Good story but some people don't even have a plan to trust.

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