I'm no guru any longer (people called me *the fiber optics guru* back in the 90's-early 2k's - even at HP/Agilent, that says a lot ;-), however it seems that I do currently share the same trouble than Presentation Design guru Garr Reynolds. Actually, Garr's words in his recent post could be mine - I was to write something on that : " I find myself making more little mistakes and being less satisfied with my work overall unless I can take the time everyday to be alone and focus on one thing at a time. "
Is it aging ? I don't think so : at 48 in 2 months, my brain is still in better shape than most of the Generation Y (just kidding, Facebook readers ;-). My take is - such is Garr's too - that we are overhelmed by this Always-Urgent mode we live in since years. Less and less time to achieve more and more fragmented tasks. This is no new discovery, of course. Yet it's quite disturbing.
Yesterday afternoon, back from a meeting in Paris with young entrepreneur Mathieu Husson and his team, I was hit by a strange thought : "maybe I do too much". I suddenly realized that I may be currently too much immersed in too many open projects.
Then, last night whilst watching French Champion Tsonga fighting hard against Electric Roddick, I took a brief look on Twitter with my iPhone. My wife went sarcastic : "hey, can't you get off the grid for once ?".
So, I remembered the days at Agilent Boeblingen, Germany. We were working hard and fast - 3 years looking like 3 months, that's the one thing that's comes to our mind when we talk about this period. Yet things were organized, the German way. Process, process, process. At the end of the day, it gives you the VW Golf : attention to the details. When I moved from HP/Agilent headquarters in Paris to Boeblingen, I was used to work on 30 different projects at a time. Friends were used to say that I was "Mister 100-ideas a day". After 3 years in Germany, I was doing just a handful of things at a time, and I was doing those quite well, according to our customers and the management.
That was just 6 years ago. What has changed, since then ? Maybe people like Garr and myself and millions of other guys are just too curious and hungry to learn and share. Maybe we're just workoholic. Maybe we're just tech geeks, relying too much on the Internet and the iPhone. Working on our regular job, reading our RSS feeds, blogging, commenting, twitting : we're always "online", and... disrupted.
I have no answer so far, however I have the solution - at least for myself. From now on, I'm going back to the German mode. Check email and reply from 8:00AM to 9:00AM, then leave the incoming messages for the next day. Read and comment the news from 9 till 10. Then work on the priority #1 project until lunchtime (and keep this one at fixed hour). Take a short rest, off the grid. Go back to work at 1:30PM, and work on priority #2 project until tea break. Then get back and work on #3 project until everybody leaves the factory - ooops, until the kids come back home.
There is definitely no new method here. Just basic, time-proven common sense. That's why this post is the very last one I'll write and publish over a week-end !
Thanks to Garr for the reminder, and for the video. Follow the link here for more.
Presentation Zen here.