Open for Business: Thinking about Productivity

In his Zero-In box video, Merlin Mann likens knowledge work to working in a diner. You take orders and you make sandwiches. However, what can happen for many reasons – like many meetings and not enough time to process the results, or not having a good overview of your inventory of obligations – is that you take too many orders and you don’t have time to make sandwiches. Or you keep taking orders and you don’t make time to make sandwiches.

What that results in is a lot of hungry people, and potentially irate customers, who are sitting there waiting for their sandwiches to get back to what they need to be doing.

Yesterday afternoon, Lizzie and I, after a week of intense meetings, are feeling like we are continually taking orders and not having the time to make the sandwiches. We are taking time to make the ingredients at least, the tuna salad and roast beef is there and ready to go. We have done the design work for our upcoming retreats, we have brainstormed the questions for our World Cafe next week. But the final steps are not yet done. We have not had a moment, or more truthfully, made the time to sit down, and finish making our sandwiches and get them back to our patient customers.

That is what I am doing here here at my desk at 6am on a Friday, getting ready to make some sandwiches. This blog post is like turning around that Open for Business sign. Hopefully there will be no new customers at this hour of the day…

(If you get so organized that you have some surfing time today: 43 Folders is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.)

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