Lost in the Daily Routine

By David W. Favor

We believe in the 4 D’s. Do It! Delegate It. Defer it. Delete it. It is a very simple thought process. Everything in your list will fall into one of these categories. The better you are at time management and or delegation the shorter your list. We weren’t the first to come up with this.

I got to thinking about this when I noticed one client we worked with had a mixture of task list assigned to his people. Some of the staff had unusually large task lists with items overdue by months, but some had remarkably short lists. I jumped to the conclusion that people with the long list just did not follow the process. It turned out not to be so simple. I found a mixture of thinkers, doers and planners in the group.

• Thinkers excel at exploring ideas. They spend time brainstorming and examining all of the possibilities. They tend to be positive people who don’t rule out options and they also kind of question everything.

• Planners are strategists. They take pleasure in figuring out how best to execute a particular idea. They don’t list and want to know why they are doing something.

• Doers love to execute. They are practical, value results and take responsibility for getting them. Strangely, they are not highly motivated. They tend to wait for instructions.

So the thinkers were questioning each task, the planners were trying to figure out how to do the task and the doers were jumping in with no idea what they were doing. There was a bigger problem here that needed to be looked at. Most of the people understood the process and what needed to be done but did not have a clear idea of priority. They didn’t see the real role they needed to play.

I’ve been a Planner all my life. I’ve always loved making lists, organizing my task by priority, and making sure I had everything on my list.. It was like a game to me: how well could I execute my plan each day? I digress. Getting back to the office, the real problem seemed to be that the staff did not know when to plan and when to execute. I found people busy doing and having no idea of what was actually required. I also found people planning when they should have been doing. The staff were not acting as a team. There was not a single focus on the business.

It seemed to me that it was time to step back and do some thinking. Generate some ideas and develop a picture of what we wanted to do. Now, stop thinking and do a little planning and develop a robust set of processes, policies and responsibilities. Now start doing. This cycle should be repeated often to stay on track.

The real problem I found is that they got stuck in doing. They had a proper thinking and planning session several months back and never revisited that plan. Instead, they got trapped in the daily routine.

The reason they got trapped was an intense focus on results. People were being rewarded for results, status meetings were about results and most conversations were about results. Results are good but sometimes we get so focused that we miss things. Our efficiency drops as we ignore the process. Our frustration level increases as we get lost in the field of interrupts. It was time to take a break and get back on track. Never ignore the process.

About the Authors

Owls were considered creatures of wisdom and Dave Favor and Cheryl Leone are no exception as they write as The Wise Owls. With almost a century of experience together in business and life mentoring, Dave and Cheryl bring a new thought process to owning a business and owning your life. Together they live in Raleigh, North Carolina, and through their parent company own Catalyst Group, Inc., home of Wise Business Leader. Watch for the newest book Gone for The Gold: Self-evident truths for living and working coming soon. Questions? Email the Wise Business Leader (a.k.a. Dave Favor).

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