Forgetting the value of limiting WIP! Again.

Back in June I was gloating over my success of balancing life by truly adhering to the value of limiting my WIP.

Whups! Six months have come and gone. Yeah, that wasn’t because I was sipping tea on the porch. In fact, by the time November hit, I was busy having a physical breakdown trying to keep too many balls in the air. As long as everything tended to “take turns” in priority, everything worked. However, when my director role took on a couple more interim roles, everything else somehow was exacerbated. Family priorities left the building and the evil cycle commenced while my health deteriorated.

I was amazed. How could I misjudge my capacity so well?

After crashing and working on a personal re-structuring plan, I finally picked up and read Jim Benson’s Why Limit WIP. Once again, I grimace at the obvious. Of course I’m going to fail at faking superhuman powers. How many times have I taught and coached that multi-tasking … but then, I am reminded to limit my WIP, and am back on track.

Something, however, that always confused me was that while I’m decent at limiting WIP on a project level, I over-commit on job-level expectations. So I encourage you to spend the few bucks to get the book and remind yourself to re-discover the obvious a personal and management level … and here’s a few of my own lessons from a painful six months.

  • Don’t set false constraints.
    I tend to put myself in a time box that wasn’t asked of me. Don’t do that!
  • Don’t confuse goals and deadlines.
    The reality of deadlines is that there are very few. However, how easily do we think the only way goals can be accomplished is if we meet the made-up deadline?
  • Don’t two things at once, even if it feels casual.
    Checking email while talking on the phone won’t work.
  • Don’t change what you’re doing multiple times in the day.
    Don’t try and move all your projects forward at once. Finish one at a time. (The book almost kills this point and I’ll still forget it.)
  • Keep emails short.
    After committing to a five sentence or less email promise, I found myself re-writing emails frequently to get to the real message that mattered. It takes practice and everybody benefits.
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About Marian

My passion is centered around ensuring effective learning experiences that improve people's lives. Developing a learning mindset is my ultimate goal whether working with academic programs or corporate training; formal or informal learning practices. It is my belief that our potential for agility is limited only by our capacity for learning.