At one of my most stressful jobs I found myself scouring for ways to do things better, faster, cheaper…I read several books and listened to several podcasts desperate to make my life less miserable and maybe recover some time back to enjoy life. Some of the books I’ve read / listened to included:
- Getting Things Done (Audio)
- The 4 Hour Work Week (Audiobook)
- Get People to do Whatever you Want and Never Feel Powerless Again (Audio)
- Getting to Yes – (I listed to the audio book several years later after reading a part of the book)
For some of these longer books, the commute time I had leant itself to completing a chapter one-way. After years of taking training classes, I always make sure there is something I can take away from them.
Here are some of the take-aways I’ve gotten from these books, respectively:
- List Yourself! Don’t leave it all in your head – that’s SO stressful! I have GTD app on my phone and it reminds me to take a shower at 5 am, to refill my vitamins on Sunday, to wash my bed sheets every X days, to set up lunch with specific friends every quarter, for example. It’s so much easier knowing that I don’t have to keep that all in my head. I don’t just rely on the app though – I have a month/week planner I use at work that helps me keep track of items that are due on certain days of the month – but that method is more beneficial when I’m in a desk setting. When I went on leave, the paper method went out the window for that time period as being able to remind myself what I could / should do in the 15 minutes the baby actually took a nap was critical when I was delirious, and a way to capture it when I only had one free hand.
- When setting up meetings with people, if you throw it on the calendar, tell the person you’re trying to set up time with to propose 3 times that would work for them, as an alternate, if the proposed time you put up didn’t work. It was all about anticipating the response and reducing the amount of emails that went back and forth. I’ve also considered the author’s YMI solution but I never went there.
- If you want to get someone to commit to something, put their credibility on the line. I actually did a social experiment with some executives on this. I was setting up a social event after work and, while collecting donations for a charity at lunch time, for every VP executive I saw (who initially RSVP’d for this after-work event), I said to them, “So, I’ll count on seeing you [afterwork] at the ____ .” If they say yes, you’re putting their credibility on the line with this wording / phrasing. In my experience, for folks (whether in college or in corporate American) who RSVP’d to events, it was a pretty accurate estimate that 30% of the folks who RSVP’d would show up. In this case 100% of the VPs who said yes SHOWED UP! Holy cow – they’re onto something here.
- Instead of YOU, say WE. It instills a sense of teamwork and keeps people off the defense. This was great when I had to foster a sense of teamwork in a team that was being cut and prides justifiably hurt. When you’re the last girl (or guy) left standing – and folks may know it, this shows a lot of tact and I got commended by folks much more senior than me that I was very diplomatic. I can imagine others in that position would have been easy to throw folks under the bus, but at the end of the day it wouldn’t do myself, the team member, or the customer any good. We all had the same goal at our job, we knew what was the right thing to do, and it was all about WE because we succeed as a team. It was a very humbling time. One of my teammates said he’d work for me when I became CIO. My boss at the time also mentioned me being a CIO one day. I’m not a CIO but I took that of a compliment of course!
I’m sure if you read these books, you’d get more or other things out of it that I’m not mentioning, but for me, these items come to mind almost on a daily basis. I’m not perfect and I often go running back to the book / audio book to remind myself of tips to get through other challenges, because you’ll always take away something new and applicable if you’re paying attention.
If any readers out there have other best practices or tips they found helpful, can I count on you sharing them? 😛 Please do! I’m sure there’s other books I’m not listing here but these are the heavy hitters for me – I will add mores tips if they come to mind!