Don’t do stupid things

18th October 2016

I’m constantly amazed by how stupid I was two weeks ago.

And I’m OK with that. After all, I invest lots of time and money in self-development. I’d expect to be better today than I used to be.

But there have also been many times when I have been stupid.

Like when, a few years ago, my mum asked me if I wanted some lemon chicken.

I said “No thanks. I don’t like lemon-y things… lemon chicken, lemon cheesecake, lemon drizzle cake, lemon juice…”

And then it suddenly dawned on me: I don’t like lemon.

I’d never realised that before.

I was 36.

That’s stupid.

And then there was last month with my son, Tom. He’s nearly four, and has been a bad sleeper for most of his life. At home, he sleeps in a cot with one of the sides removed. But he gets up every night. But then we go on holiday, put him in a bed, and he sleeps through. Then we come back, put him back in his cot, and he keeps getting up. Then the next holiday, back in a bed, and he sleeps.

And then it suddenly dawned on us: he doesn’t sleep well in his cot.

So we got him a new bed.

And he’s slept through every night since.

He was nearly four before we worked that out.

Again, stupid.

So here’s a question for you: if a total stranger looked at your diary, and saw you what you do every week, what would they think was stupid?

For instance, would they see things that:

  • You hate doing
  • Take miles too long
  • Happen too frequently – weekly when they could be monthly etc
  • Involve too many people, many of whom don’t need to be there
  • Achieve nothing
  • Everyone complains about
  • Take place very late on Friday afternoons
  • Involve too much paperwork and pre-reads…
  • …that are often circulated too late to read them anyway
  • Watch presentations where the speaker shows a wordy slide and says “you won’t be able to read this but…”
  • Send emails called “FYI” and expect people to do anything with them

And after that, what would this stranger advise you do with these things?

For example, let’s say she saw you go to meetings you think are pointless, she might suggest one/more of:

  • Stop going
  • Miss one, and see if you/anyone cares. If no-one does, miss the next one
  • See if you’re needed for the whole agenda. If you aren’t, ask the Meeting Owner to put your agenda items to the start, attend for those only, and then leave
  • Meet the Owner one-to-one instead
  • Dial-in instead of taking the time to travel and attend face-to-face
  • Ask the Actions Arising instead of attending
  • Reduce something – the duration, frequency, number of attendees etc

For me, today’ll be a good day. I won’t eat any lemons. And Tom will sleep beautifully.

But in two weeks, I’ll be amazed how stupid I was to do something I did today.

Will you?

Action point

Look at your diary and ask yourself ‘what do I do that’s stupid?’

And then identify lots of ways to remove/reduce them.

Finally, choose your favourite 1-2 ways and do them. Two weeks from now, you’ll be amazed…

And here are lots of other ways you can tweak what you’re doing – all very simple and very quick – and all of which will help you get more done, more easily.

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