Thursday, October 14, 2004

Getting Organized

I have been reading Getting Things Done. It is a really good book on doing just that. The most valuable technique I have gotten from it is that if a task takes ~2 minutes you should just do it and get it out of the way. I don't agree that you should check you in-box 400 times a day, that is almost once a minute (480 minutes in 8 hours), I long ago changed to checking my email only 3-4 times a day rather then reacting every time an email comes in. Having recently read Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience it takes longer then 2 minutes to get into the zone, about 15 minutes or so.

So it would be best to use the Getting Things Done technique a few times each day to deal with the small things and use the rest of the time to get into flow for the big things. Most engineers have gone into work early so we could get some things done before everyone else showed up and started distracting us. We were there looking for flow.

We were at the Cannery again yesterday. We canned pears halves and it was great to see the upgrades they had given the Cannery, they can handle 1,000,000 cans per year now. It was fun though tiring. It is interesting to see how the volunteers self-organize given only simple instructions and a clear goal. Some people have strong take-charge personalities and others and happy enough to just follow along. Doing little tasks are important but it is having a clarity of goal that lets you allocate the people into the areas they are needed. At first we had most people moving the pears from the crates to the washer, but then we ended up stopping the line often because we did not having enough splitting and coring the pears. but once everyone saw where the problems were each moved in to places where they thought they could help and things balanced out pretty well.

It definitely shows that people want to do a good job and have a good understanding of what they could be good at and will move to that position if they have a chance to move and try it.

I wonder that in the case of businesses that they don't allow enough internal mobility. And an attitude that will allow people to try on different roles to get things done within the company. Okay, most companies have very unclear goals and that holds them back, but with very clear goals internal mobility can be a good thing.

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