Personal Brainstorming with No Agenda, on Random Topics ⋆ Politicrossing
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Personal Brainstorming with No Agenda, on Random Topics

A simple way to proceed effectively on a daily and weekly basis in this ultra-hectic world



In the course of my day or week, I find myself sitting at a table, on a bench, on a couch, or someplace pleasant. During that time, I might be waiting for someone to arrive, listening to music, or otherwise have a few minutes to myself. Invariably, I reach for a pen and a piece of paper, of any size, and start making notes.

What kind of notes do I make? They are random in nature and purely personal. I might list items that I need to pick up on the way home. I might list things that I want to accomplish in the next few days. “Is there a room or space in my house that needs cleaning?” “Do I need to take the car into the service station?”

500 Personal Brainstorms

These random notes, at random times, have proven to be invaluable.  In the last 10 years, I likely have created 500+ lists, roughly one per week. The notes are like personal brainstorming sessions. I write down whatever comes to mind.

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Not every item that makes the list represents a ‘to-do.’ Some items are merely observations, keywords, or random phrases.

Soon, I mow down the items to the best of my ability. I don’t let any list items linger; I either transfer items to my master to do list, or handle them on the spot. In any event, I cross off or transfer everything, and then discard the original piece of paper. This ritual helps me to feel whole and complete.

Let’s Do it Again

The next time I’m out and about, which could be the next day or sometime next week, I might generate another list. I put the minutes I have to good use – waiting, listening, or reflecting. Or I’ll make a new list, knowing it contributes to peace of mind, greater focus, and an enhanced sense of personal energy.

If you’ve never tried brainstorming for one, I heartily recommend it. You can write down random items like I do, or you could focus on a particular issue. It’s your choice, but in any case, you’ll find the techniques to be satisfying rewarding, and a simple way to proceed on a daily and weekly basis in this ultra-hectic world.

For Your Eyes Only

Here is a sampling of random notes to myself as I mark them down, with no rhyme or reason, but it all works for me:

* Send current topic list to Nancy
* Ask Ashley if there’s any renewed program interest
* Send 50 topics where else?
* Update with lecture bureau
* Check out CDs on wealth, retirement, travel, and leisure

* Ensure that “The voice” is on my DVR recording schedule
* Where to send the UPS article?
* Greensboro properties, Winston-Salem properties
* Find the green sun screen
* Strawberries still good?

* Visit Cary Town Center
* The snow scraper goes
* Replace remote batteries
* Re-pot all the plants
* Add these notes to this article as examples for readers.

The great benefit of creating these lists on the fly is that I feel whole and complete when I return to my house or my office, because I have no lingering thoughts spinning around in my head. My current thoughts are all on the little slip of paper.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®

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Delegation: An Ongoing Phenomena

Failure to delegate effectively often happens because team leader don’t trust the people with whom they’re working



For most of your career, you’ve read or heard that one of the key approaches to getting things done is to delegate effectively. This presumes that you have others to whom you can delegate. In my contact with more than 950 organizations over the last two and a half decades, I’ve found increasingly that people have fewer resources, a lower budget, and less staff people. If they want to get something done, often they have to do it themselves!

Assuming you have others to whom you can delegate, the first or second time you personally tackle a particular task yields useful information. You learn more about the nature of the task, how long it takes, and whether or not you enjoy doing it.

By the third time, a task of the same ilk as those you’ve handled before often becomes best handled by someone reporting to you. Such tasks could involve updating a database, completing an interim report, or assembling meeting notes.

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All that You Can

On the path to getting things done, your quest is to identify all those things that you can possibly delegate to others and then prepare those others so that they have a high probability of succeeding. In the course of your workday there may be only a handful of things that you alone need to do because of your experience, insight or specialized knowledge. Everything else that can be delegated should be.

Some people feel they have to take care of everything themselves and to this day haven’t been able to break the habit of “doing it all.” If this someone is in your seat right now, recognize that as a category of one, you can only get so much done.

Many managers and supervisors fail to delegate effectively because either they don’t fully trust the people with whom they’re working, or they’ve always been get-it-all-done-by-myself types.

Take Time before You Assign

Prior to delegating anything to anyone, take the time to actually prepare your staff for delegation. This would involve assessing an employee’s skills, interests, and needs. You could even ask people what new tasks and responsibilities they would like to assume. You might be surprised at the wide variety of responses you receive. There may be people on your staff right now who can help you with tasks you’ve been dying to hand off to someone but didn’t see how or when you could put them into play.

While you want to delegate to staff people who show enthusiasm, initiative and interest, or have otherwise previously demonstrated the ability to handle and balance several tasks at once, sometimes you have to delegate to someone who has not exhibited any of the above. In that case, delegate on a piece-meal basis.

Ensure that the staff person is able to effectively handle the small task or tasks he’s been assigned and does not feel swamped or overloaded. When the staff person demonstrates competence, you can increase the complexity of assignments and even the frequency with which you delegate.

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Multi-tasking: More Harm than Good

In this day and age, where so much competes for our attention, it is easy to stray!



I belong to a local health club, and while I was there one day, I saw a woman get on the Stairmaster. I watched as she whipped out an mp3 player and started listening to music. Then, to my surprise, she reached into her gym bag, pulled out a book, and placed it on that ledge to read. I almost asked her if she would like a piece of gum!

Today, when so much competes for our attention, it is easy to stray! More often than we care to pretend, in the office and at home, we invite more than we can handle, and then act as though we didn’t. As individuals, throughout society, we are trained to believe that the ability to multi-task is a great attribute. Unfortunately, that’s a big mistake. Here’s why, and how to avoid multi-tasking in the future.

First Things First

What’s the fastest and easiest way to handle six tasks competing for our attention? Identify the most important task, second most important, third most important, and so on, then tackle the first and finish it all the way, move on to the second and complete it, then move all the way down the list.

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Any other way of tackling those items, whether they are tasks for home or work, is simply not as efficient. The catch is, any other way is more psychologically satisfying.  Why?  It’s almost as if juggling projects, switching gears unnecessarily or abruptly, or leaving a job unfinished to start a new project gives you the opportunity to say to other people, “Hey, look at me! Look how involved I am! Look at how busy I am! I’m great at multi-tasking.” A multi-tasker, however, can’t compete with others who tackle their to-do list, one item at a time.

What about doubling up as a procedure for tackling a number of routine items or very simple tasks? You can eat dinner and read a book at the same time. Eating and reading at the same time is relatively harmless.

How about driving and talking on the cell phone at the same time? Driving requires your sharp attention, as does carrying on an intelligent conversation with someone else who is not present; doing both at the same time spreads your attention too thin, with often disastrous results. The same is true for projects you’re working on that require your best thinking.

* give yourself 5 to 10 minute intervals to focus on the task at hand
* safe-guard your immediate environment to avoid interruptions
* acknowledge yourself whenever you stick to one task and finish it
* repeat all the above, often, knowing that ‘more often’ is better!

Your Undivided Attention

When you’re working on a new task, brainstorming, engaging in first-time thinking, or doing creative work, it’s vital to offer your complete and undivided attention to that one task before you. To dissipate your attention or otherwise stray means you are not going to do your best work.

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