I’m a firm believer that God made us to run—but I don’t believe he made us to run 24/7.
Yet that’s what some of us are trying to do, and we berate ourselves for having poor time management skills. Who of us hasn’t been guilty of trying to do too much too well? While a common belief is that most of us don’t even begin to live up to our potential, high-achievers I work with hit the ground running each morning determined to have it all, do it all and do it better than they’ve ever done it before.
While listening to a training session last week on professional speaking, the trainer—an international public speaker—emphasized that developing speaking skills is a process not an event. And when we view developing any skill as a process, we’ll be more patient with ourselves and find it easier to persevere. So what’s the difference between events and processes? Events, even though they may be repeated annually, are for the most part one-time happenings. By contrast, developing and perfecting skills of any kind takes time—maybe months, years, or a lifetime—depending on where we begin and where we aspire to be.
When the training session was over and I was reflecting on what I had learned, I pondered the tasks on my to-do list and asked myself if I’d been unconsciously viewing some tasks as events when they’re really best handled as process. Here are a few examples that may help you evaluate or identify ways to increase your personal productivity and performance by simply re-classifying things you do:
- Developing speaking skills may include taking a class, joining Toastmasters, speaking at every opportunity and listening to great speakers whenever possible. This would definitely be considered a process.
- Taking a prospect to lunch is an event. You invite the person to lunch, prepare a few good questions based on some light research, be totally present with your guest, pick up the tab and you’re done.
- Building a relationship with the new prospect is a process. Hosting lunch could be the first step, but following up afterward with a note or article, and connecting on LinkedIn or Facebook would be another step. Setting up an appointment at the prospect’s place of work and discerning whether the potential for working together warrants further relationship building would be the next step.
- Bringing organization to your office is another task that may frequently appear on your to-do list. Until now, I had always unconsciously viewed organizing my office as an event—something I’d whip through in an hour or two and then conveniently put it out of my mind for the next couple of months. Of course the chaos returns much sooner than that. What if, instead, I start viewing it as a process—something that requires daily attention until I reach the degree of order I want? Perhaps then I could transition to a “maintenance mode” giving it a half-hour of attention two or three days a week rather than daily?
What events and processes are you working on? How much stress might you alleviate if you re-classified some of the projects you’re engaged in and took a new approach?
© Judy DeLapa October 2013