Lessons Learned

5 Lessons Learned

In my previous post I tried to provided an explanation for my involuntary online hiatus. But what did I learn from entering and escaping a black hole?

A. I made mistakes
B. See A

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1. You can never prepare early enough for changes in personnel and/or workload.

If you are responsible for recruiting your own staff, get involved with appropriate universities and other places of education to keep ahead of the curve. Get good recruiters working for you – for free (that’s another post, though).

Engage and be present in the relevant professional communities.

You can never start to soon to look for your next rock star employee(s). Think of it as a mandatory continuous process. Commit to the appropriate time for getting involved and engaging.

2. Let your surroundings know you are experiencing an exceptional situation and how and when they can expect a response. It’s OK. It happens.

Post a disclaimer on your blog as soon as possible.

Add an auto responder on your mail, private and/or professional.

Call people personally to let them know in advance.

3. Do not let your personal life suffer unreasonably and over time.

This is hard. You’ve probably been there too. Be very conscientious of your personal life in times of professional duress. You are going to need that personal time with yourself and your loved ones more than ever. You will be stronger from it. Take two or three steps back and plan accordingly. Share with your close ones; chances are they can help you.

4. Don’t even try to catch up on every single piled up correspondence.

Write an honest apology response explaining the situation, making sure that the senders know that they will have to get back to you yet again if they still have open issues in need of your attention.

5. Fess up when you fuck up.

Admit to your mistakes personally, identify possible improvements and move on. This is not the time to be pointing fingers at others or to be playing the blame game. This is the time to be on the offense, taking responsibility.

Just one more thing.

6. DON’T TAKE IT TOO PERSONALLY.

If you are like me, you might find this very hard too, but hey! It’s real life – not Hollywood fiction. Shit happens. You make mistakes too. It’s just business. Cheer up – you’re going to die anyway! :D

I probably failed on several accounts the last three months. Hindsight has 20/20 LOLCAT vision, but I hope I’m now stronger and more prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow by the experience.

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Lessons Learned, Little Known Fact, News

The Times They Are A-Changin’ – Repentance and Apologies

It’s no secret that I’ve been out of the online and offline loop for over three months.

I’ll eventually tell you why, but the theories and rumors surrounding the absence are probably more interesting and entertaining than the actual truth.

No, I was not hired for the Obama Campaign. I did not help establish the future political platform 2.0 to turn America around. Barack should still feel free to call, though.

No, I did not lose it all in the great Crunch. Credit Crunch or Tech Crunch 50, I never get invited. I don’t discriminate.

No, Pownce did not hire me. That fail train already left for euthanasia station without me.

The actual factual truth is that I was busy keeping a company afloat, thinking forward and expanding at a time where time and resources were getting record scarce, saving and securing workplaces and business for the future.

It paid off, though. We’re solid. Golden. Sorted. Awsun, akshully.

However, I’ll drink that glass of champagne with you later.

It’s hard to be enthusiastic left with a head stuck through several brick walls, wondering what the hell life is all about, desperately in need of a timeout.

I do honestly and sincerely apologize to anyone who tried to mail or call me in the last months. I feel like human manure. I’m finally getting around to you. I am so sorry that I did not tend to you earlier.

I am getting back to you. You mean a lot to me. No, seriously. You do. Hold on to that little speck of trust that you may still have in me.

If anything, I’m proof positive that information do indeed flow back out of black holes.

Update: I’ve posted some of the lessons I learned from the experience.

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Are we getting things done yet?

Don’t you just hate to be told how to do things? I do. Yet, we keep looking for advice on how to be more efficient. I do too. In this post I’ll try to share what I do to get things done. I never actually put it into words before, but after becoming familiar with the likes of David Allen and his Getting Things Done and Merlin Mann‘s Inbox Zero and 43folders, I found some striking resemblances to what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years. Watch the inspiring Google Tech Talk presentation held just recently by Mr. Mann below if you haven’t already.

Now this is what I do: I identify if any call, meeting, comment or email requires me to take action(s) as soon as they come to my attention.If no action is needed, I forget about it. It’s either resolved by reading/receiving or the action(s) is required from someone else. I’ll label this as a ‘No action’ action. I share info if appropriate, but only after considering signal to noise. I archive, never delete. (Yes, I’m a veritable digital information hamster.)

Next up I have ‘Immediate action’ – Does it take only a couple of minutes to do? I do it straight away or delegate it to someone that will do it instantly. (Delegating in general usually falls into this category, I would think.) Does it take longer? I let it sit in the inbox to deal with at an opportune moment, later same day. Do the gravity of the action require my immediate and unscheduled attention that will take the focus away from my current schedule? I reshuffle and reschedule current actions and do it now or re delegate, redistribute and/or re prioritise if possible. Archive.

Then there are the ‘Time/place action’, in lack of a better label. (Yes, I’m aware that my labeling is lacking in the sexy department. ;) Is my action needed at or before a certain time? At a certain place? I schedule it as a todo and/or a calendar event by date with timely reminders. I try to group similar actions. Archive.

Finally, there’s the ‘Future action’, a fuzzy nondescript action with no deadline. I keep it in the inbox and let it mature or either upgrade to time/place action or forget about it if someone else will get back to you on the subject at some future point or if it becomes irrelevant and automagically expires. I delegate it if needed/wanted. Archive.

Repeat, rinse and lathe.

With regards to mails, my inbox is my list of todos. I reply at once (‘Immediate action’), reply timed ( ‘Time/place action’), let simmer and mature (‘Future action’) or archive/file at once without reply (‘No action’) or after reply or when irrelevant like outlined above. I keep a minimal of mails in the inbox and try to deal with them all within a workday. There should ideally be no mails in my inbox at the end of the day. I do not keep separate folders for anything other than archiving purposes (tech restraint at my place of work). I do not waste time labeling or tagging emails, if you were wondering. Mails get archived naked.

Keeping physical in and out boxes does not work for me. I’ve tried and failed miserably. I keep physical in/out material annoyingly close to the keyboard on my physical desktop until action taken. This is ridiculous suboptimal, but works for me ™.

Does this make sense to you? I would be thrilled to hear about what you do to get your things done!

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