Stop Wasting My Time

I recently read a Harvard Business Review blog post from Dorie Clark.  This isn’t the first post I have read from her.  I think her advice is quite pragmatic and helpful.  I’m always looking for little tidbits of advice, and in this post she delivers a few nuggets.

This post is about stopping people from wasting your time.  In today’s fast paced business world, where the concept of time and personal space is becoming increasingly blurry, reducing time waste is crucial if one is to have any chance of balancing work and life.

She states four strategies: stating your preferred communication method, require an agenda for meetings, policing guest lists and forcing others to prepare.  These are great strategies in my mind.  Some of these things I seem to do fairly naturally, but as with everything there is room for improvement.

Stating your preferred communication method to people will help streamline the many threads of information.  For me, my preferred method is email because it allows me to prioritize my responses to messages.  I tend to ignore incoming phone calls to my office as more times than not it is a time waster coming through from the other end of the line.

Requiring meeting agendas is a good practice also.  I have also couched requests for agendas using the “so I can contribute fully” phrase, and it really helps surface the true purpose of the meeting.  Often I am double booked, and the agenda is often the tie-breaker to help me decide which meeting to attend.

Policing the attendees is really important also.  For example, if a number of my managers are already in the meeting, I may choose not to go, and sometimes even help by agreeing to send just one from my team.  After all, it’s not just about my time, but my team’s time is valuable also.  More often or not, less is more when it comes to most meetings, so limiting attendees is almost always helpful to get a successful outcome.

Forcing others to prepare is the area where I can improve a great deal.  It really comes down to communicating expectations, and if I can do that, a meeting will lead to some form of progress.  I’m not always good about that, so for me this is the nugget I will take from this post.

Thanks again, Ms. Clark.  I appreciate the reminders.

Congratulations, Lyle!

I just got my hands on Delivering Mobile-Friendly Websites with MVC4, authored by my colleague and friend Lyle Luppes (blog). I am really happy for him and this accomplishment.

I am not a software engineer, so I would not get much personal value in reading this book. However, I would not hesitate recommending this work to any software engineer interested in this topic. I have worked with Lyle for many years, on many projects, and I know his work to be thorough. Great job, Lyle! Congratulations on this accomplishment!

Book Review: 12 Seconds to Project Management Greatness

Last night I finished 12 Seconds to Project Management Greatness.  Mr. Everett is a former colleague of mine, and we have fought the good fight together some years ago.  I can say with great certainty and experience that the concepts discussed in the book are well rooted in reality, and any project manager could benefit from reading this book.

I appreciated the approach Mr. Everett took in creating this work, as it read more like a screenplay or novel which made what is a pretty dry topic a lot more interesting.  I enjoyed meeting the Master Project Managers in the respective locations around the world and hearing some of the well-crafted stories.  There were a few nuggets I took from the book that I can apply to my daily work, as well as a few reminders of things I instinctively knew, but haven’t practiced effectively for some time.

I agree wholeheartedly that if one was to master each of the Project Management Imperatives written in this book that they would be a great Project Manager.   As the book concluded, our hero Alex is suddenly transformed into a great Project Manager, and his world is made right almost immediately.   It made for a great story, but as the story was winding down, I couldn’t help but being reminded of a recent encounter with one of Minnesota’s great baseball heroes, Tony Oliva.

I was with my son at a Twins baseball game, and we had the rare opportunity to have an extended conversation with Mr. Oliva as we were introduced by a mutual acquaintance.  My 11 year old son asked him, “what is the secret to hitting?”  Mr. Oliva responded with two thoughts.  The first comment was very simple, “Practice.”  The second piece of advice regarding practice came a few seconds later, “When you practice, don’t try to be perfect, just make better” (broken English intended).  That’s good advice to young  baseball players and Project Managers alike regarding development – it is important to view development as a journey.

The tools found in the back serve effectively as a roadmap to go on that journey, and I recommend any Project Manager take the time to leverage those tools for their own development.  For me, that was a key value of the book.

Congratulations to Mr. Everett on a fine piece of work, and I look forward to the continuing story of Alex Pilgrim.

Book Review: Calico Joe

For those that know me, I’m a pretty busy person.  With an active family like mine, the daily routine does not afford me much time to read.  So, when the opportunity presented itself this weekend to do some reading I was pretty excited to read Calico Joe, by John Grisham.  This book got my attention because it appeared to be about baseball, and I have enjoyed Grisham’s work, such as The Firm and many others.

I was not disappointed.  In typical Grisham style, we follow the story of the three main characters Joe Castle, Warren Tracey and Paul Tracey.  Without dropping any spoilers, it highlighted the dynamic of fathers and sons and their involvement with baseball, plus the always heartening rags-to-riches story of the hometown ballplayer making it big.  It reminds us that one of the great things about baseball is that is provides a common language, as the game hasn’t really changed all that much.

I especially appreciated the fact that Grisham brought us along and revealed the details very thoughtfully, which mapped out the eventual collision course of our main characters.  Even though it is fiction, the level of attention to the finer points of the game were appreciated, as it helped put me in the moment as a reader.

Calico Joe receives my recommendation as it was a great read for a baseball fan like me.

Book Review: Joel Comm’s Twitter Power

I’m on a business trip this week, and this always provides an opportunity to get caught up on reading.  Since social media is a big area of interest in my work these days, I thought I’d read Joel Conn’s book, entitled Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time.

In my work as a corporate research manager, it’s important for me to stay up on these trends, and I am seeing more and more relevance each day for social media sites like Twitter.  Mr. Conn’s book hit me at the exactly at the right time in my journey to embrace social media.  I appreciate the informal writing style a great deal.  It makes the whole process much easier to digest.  What is the big deal about this silly little microblogging application  that limits you to 140 characters?  Joel Conn explains very well why companies like mine need to pay attention to this cultural shift.

In my view, the most valuable portion of the book comes at the end with a “30 Day Plan for Dominating Twitter.”  I fully intend to try it and I will keep readers posted as to my journey (which includes this new blog as well!).  In addition, I applied some of his tweet-writing and following strategies and I saw my follower count double , which didn’t take much at this stage of my Twitter evolution.

Bottom line, I recommend this work for anyone wanting to get serious about Twitter.   I look forward to talking on my blog about my progress through the 30 day domination plan.

Book Review: Pursuit of Honor by Vince Flynn

I just finished getting my annual Vince Flynn fix.  In years past, I tended to read the book so fast that I barely got the chance to enjoy it.  I would then have to wait about another 360 days to get my hands on the next book.

Vince Flynn
Pursuit of Honor by Vince Flynn

  When I received my copy of Pursuit of Honor, I promised myself that I would take the time to savor it and I was so glad that I did.

This book picks up the storyline at the end of the previous book where Mitch Rapp and his clandestine colleagues deal with the fallout of the terrorist attack in Washington, DC.

The action moves quickly, as always, and the combination of the subplots reflect the political complexities that those who are working secretly to protect us must navigate.  It points out the conundrum we as a nation face when we think about conducting the war on terrorism.  I am thankful there are people who so willingly serve our country in the shadows and tenaciously pursue those who seek to harm us.

Without spoiling any of the plot, I’d definitely say that Vince Flynn delivers yet another winner.  The ending left me wanting to start the next book now!  At least this time I only have to wait about 300 days until his next book.  Get It Here at Amazon.