Intentional Neglect, and Productivity
No-one gets to the end of the week and realises
“I’ve forgotten to eat this week“, or
“I’ve forgotten to get some sleep“.
When it comes down to it, we can’t manage time, because time moves ahead relentlessly. However, we can manage our priorities. Planning ahead and having a good understanding of our priorities in life, both personally and professionally, will help to keep us on track even when things become busy.
There are some seasons when we have time for everything, and the only issue is to put them all in the right order. In other seasons there isn’t time for everything, and we have to select which tasks make it into our day and which to leave out, using some method of prioritisation.
Do you know where you’re going to?~ Roger Fairhead
Well, everyone ends up somewhere, but few people end up somewhere on purpose! Will you?
One thing and two words
Anyone who knows me knows that I love music. I love listening to music and I love playing music, and it was a visit to a local Jazz Club that taught me one of the guiding principles that I now use at the heart of my Personal Productivity Planner. This principle was used to bring about my personal “Best Year Ever” and has formed the central theme to the Productive Business Planning Process which has been adopted and used by organisations that I work with professionally.
I shared the details of this experience in a previous blog post entitled “Leadership is Alignment” that can be found here:
and In that post I shared the story of meeting a friend called Pete who had become a professional violinist, and I learned about the one thing and two words that had helped Pete to make a success of his musical career.
The one thing was “the one thing that only he could do” that would make the biggest difference to his career: his daily violin practice. He practiced for several hours a day in styles as diverse as classical, soul, dance, easy listening and pop, eventually securing his spot as one of Europe’s most prominent violinists.
The two words were “Intentional Neglect” because he intentionally neglected anything and everything else until his violin practice had been completed. He would neglect laundry and washing up, socialising and TV and in today’s terms that would include neglecting email and social media and anything else that would get in the way of his practice, until that practice session had been completed.
My “Best Year Ever” started out by taking the six most important things that I could do, that would have the biggest impact on my business, that I could complete in the next six weeks. Then, each week I selected the six priorities that would have the biggest impact in moving those most important things forward, and each day I would prioritise the six tasks that would have the biggest impact in moving forward my weekly priorities.
I then found that I had space to have four weeks of down-time annually for vacation time, annual reflection and goal setting, and my year was complete! That year was so successful that I’ve continued with that cycle ever since, and it’s been turned into a book, a loose-leaf planner, and it’s become one of my most popular courses.
So, to succeed do we need to focus on our six top priorities every six weeks and neglect everything else? Well, not quite. Some things just take time and daily attention. The Quality Management guru Dr Joseph Juran used the phrase: “the vital few and trivial many” to help understand this principle. He explained that there are the vital few tasks that require a large amount of focused effort, and also a plethora of “trivial” things that need to be dealt with gradually over time.
Six Daily Habits
So, having focused on the six things that are top of the list for every six-week period, and having neglected everything else intentionally, a great way of making sure that the trivial many don’t get overlooked is to start a set of daily habits. For me these habits include things like spending time with key people, writing, taking exercise, practicing an instrument and learning a new language.
I have found a great way to help me to keep my six daily habits in focus is to use the acronym BREATH:
- Blog – Writing a regular blog is rather like being a chef with a room full of diners to prepare meals for. I have several ideas on the go (rather like several meals to prepare) and I work on each of the ideas so that I can serve up several blogs in every 6 week period.
- Read – I love to carve out some time at the end of every day to read something as I am winding down to give my unconscious mind something to ponder.
- Exercise – Making time for exercise and combining it with time to think has become one of my most creative activities. I am fortunate to live near a network of canals and footpaths that provide a rich diversity of routes to inspire creative thinking.
- Audio – This is where I practice my keynotes and my key notes. I love to tell stories to illustrate my talks, and this is where I rehearse stories that I want to use so that they illustrate the points I want to make most effectively
- Tribes – My tribes are my people and include family first, and then they include the various networks of people that I want to spend time with intentionally.
- Health – Staying healthy needs a constant reminder, for me, since I can be inclined to neglect my health when I am busy simply because I really enjoy my work.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”~ John Maxwell
Although it will depend greatly on your personality type how you deal with priorities, which things come easy and which are more difficult, the true test of any system is how it stands up under pressure. I used to find that the systems I adopted tended to vary with time and with each season of my life. However, having used the Personal Productivity Planner for several years I have found that it just works, and so have my clients.
So, do you know where you’re going to?
Remember, everyone ends up somewhere, but few people end up somewhere on purpose! Will you?
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.