Moving From Cabbage to Cabbage…
I’m 4 years old. Coat, gloves, and hat on. It’s early Spring. I’m wearing those ladybird wellies you could get from Woolies. Anyone else have a pair of those? No? Just me then! I’m watching and trying to help my Dad in the garden. Among other things, he grew cabbages in our garden. 12 of them. My dad was moaning because there were holes, ‘Bloody Butterflies. Eating my flaming cabbages…’, and he would stop before the big words came out in front of a young ‘un. Instead of eating the whole cabbage, the cabbage butterfly would fly around taking nibbles from different cabbages.
Leaving the whole cabbage patch full of holes. This is what we do at work. Unfocused, yet busy. Busy creating lots of holes and not doing one big thing. We move from reading a pdf to seeing an email notification & reading the email to instant messaging a colleague, to picking up the phone.
We are all Victims of Task Switching
Task switching is mentally consuming and costly to our productivity. It’s easy to be busy, but it’s much harder to make a difference and making a difference involves working on the big and horrible stuff – The big projects we’ve been putting off. In his book, ‘Eat That Frog’ Brian Tracy tells us that if we can get the big thing (The frog) done and out of the way, we’ll have a much better rest of our day. It’s the big things that make the difference.
Zig Ziglar said:
‘I don’t care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don’t harness it and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there you’re never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants.”
There are 3 keys to achieving focus:
- Stop multi-tasking (Stop being a cabbage butterfly).
- Get rid of distractions.
- Identify the tasks that will make a big difference and do them.
Numbers 2 & 3
We’ve talked about 1. For number 2, getting rid of distractions is about email notifications. The 4-minute badger is the metaphor that will help you stop. Imagine driving a badger stepping out in front of you every 4-minutes. Would that have an impact on your driving performance? Yes. Then turn off your email notifications because you receive one every 4 minutes, and it is badly affecting your productivity. Or, if you have to, only turn it on for ‘VIPs’.
For number 3, ask yourself ‘Why are you on the payroll?’. Yes, to do lots of activities, like answer emails, manage staff, write reports, etc. But what are you paid to achieve? The answer should have a strong link to the bottom line. The activities that make the biggest difference to that bottom line are the ones you need to do more of. That’s the bottom line (See what I did there?).
This article on being a cabbage butterfly was written by Darren A. Smith for The Grocer.