It’s super important with a new client that I always make a super-fast start on my work with them. There are a raft of benefits to this approach, not least of which is the signal I send; I’m can-do, energetic, enthusiastic and proactive.
They will forever judge me against this early work.
Many days, others want you. Other days, you are needed; your actions are vital and the wheels turn about you. Then there are the few days when no one cares what you do. These are the days when you stand apart.
You capitalise on some breathing space, not by taking a breather, but by doing the things that matter beyond the end of today, past the end of this week.
This body of work; the things that you do when no one is waiting or watching, will become your legacy. These are the things that you will be proud of. And this work will determine your value.
You should care if you do nothing at work today.
The next time someone asks you for something, or proposes a plan; move into action by mentally finishing their sentence with…”unless you’ve got a better idea”.
You’ll be surprised at how often you do.
When I was a kid, I loved photography. Loved the way the camera mimicked the eye. A machine that imitates the body. Camera is to eye like computer is to brain. Composition particularly intrigued me; the way you framed a photograph defined its aesthetic and the context shaped its tone. You could explain your point of view to the ‘reader’ of the picture.
One of my favourite exercises, set by my photography teacher, Mr Brenker, was to find an ordinary still-life object and abstract it using composition – however you chose…focus, zoom, aperture settings. It was fantastic to make a beautiful, unrecognisable “new” image of something familiar. It is possible to get so close to a subject that you can’t tell what it is anymore.
And so the same phenomenon occurs when we deal with people… sometimes we’re so close that we can’t tell what we’re looking at. We can make better sense of the world by taking the photographer’s approach. Zoom in, zoom out, focus and refocus or change the change angle for a clearer understanding of the situation we are in.
Last weekend I sat on a panel of business school alumni. We fielded questions from prospective MBA students. They all wanted to know…how do you manage your time when you’re studying part time and managing a full time job?
Clients don’t care that your studying and your lecturers and syndicate group members don’t care what your clients want. And what about your family and friends.
Somehow you’ve got to find a way to fit it all in. You sleep less, go out less and with a bit of practice you learn to produce much more, with a lot less effort. You simply have to.
You work out when to spend time reading thoroughly and when to skim. You come to understand the Law of Diminishing Returns and you stop re-reading and obsessing. You find the sweet spot of least input for maximum outcome.
Then you take that idea to work everyday and you start getting better results when you’re under pressure. You get great at fast and good work. And that is one of the best things about having no time, for years on end.
Zero Follow Ups…is a really powerful guide to your ability to manage yourself.
It’s simple, practical, fast and measurable. Your own little self-assessment tool.
Just score yourself a point every time some one follows you up on something…client, colleague, report or boss.
If you aim for zero every week and come close, you’re doing well. Better still, the measure itself will really focus you on delivering for the people that matter to you.