Has anything ever "fallen through the cracks?" Have you ever "dropped the ball?" Have you ever had a great idea, then lost it, only to remember it later when you would have benefited from it? If this is a familiar pattern, would you like to do something about it? Here's an approach that might reduce the incidence of these misfortunes.
- Gather data
- How often do you actually fail to do something important? How much damage is there? Maybe you remember some horrendous incidents, and you're convinced that there's a problem. But for some, the extent and the consequences of the problem are unclear. To answer these questions, track these incidents over time, possibly weeks or months. One sure sign of a problem: you start tracking and drop the ball on tracking.
- Acknowledge the problem
- Continually dropping the ball or letting things fall through the cracks isn't a path to success. If the data prove that there's a problem, then there's a problem. Fixing the problem begins with acknowledging the problem.
- Recognize that you're the one doing it
- The responsibility for repeated incidents of forgetting important issues lies with one person: the forgetter. Overload can be a cause, but if it is, then the person who's overloaded is the person most responsible for addressing the overload. Either way, the problem is the forgetter's and it's the forgetter's to address.
- Make a contract
- A contract is an agreement between two or more parties. Usually the agreement entails an exchange — one party does (or stops doing) certain things, and in exchange, Continually dropping the ball
or letting things fall through
the cracks isn't
a path to successthe other does (or stops doing) other things. Contracts describe everything from deals between partners to treaties between nations. Contracts can also help us make difficult personal changes. To make this kind of contract, tell someone else about it. Make yourself accountable to someone. If you have no one you can tell, write it down.
- Do it
- Make a plan for this change for one category of item that you repeatedly drop. A To Do list usually isn't enough. Most likely you'll need to actually schedule tasks to make them happen. Some trial-and-error might be necessary. Do whatever works for you.
- Do it again
- This is your chance to practice. Find another category of item that you repeatedly drop. Deal with that category. Do the same techniques work for this category? Or did you have to invent some new approach? For items in this category, maybe you have to break them into smaller more doable parts. Or maybe you have to learn how to ask for help. Expand your tool kit. Soon you'll become an expert at not dropping the ball.
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
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to avoid facing it. Some of the ways we do this are so clever that we may be unaware of them. Here's
a collection of techniques we use to avoid engaging difficult problems.
- Holey Grails
- How much of the time and energy you spend in meetings goes to finding the best way? or a better way?
It's of questionable value unless you first agree on what you mean by "better" or "best."
- Deciding to Change: Choosing
- When organizations decide to change what they do, the change sometimes requires that they change how
they make decisions, too. That part of the change is sometimes overlooked, in part, because it affects
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- Unnecessary Boring Work: I
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work is boring. It doesn't have to be this way.
- Workplace Remorse
- Remorse is an unpleasant emotion. But it need not be something we suppress or avoid. It can provide
a path to a positive learning experience that adds meaning to life.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming February 8: Kerfuffles That Seem Like Something More
- Much of what we regard as political conflict is a series of squabbles commonly called kerfuffles. They captivate us while they're underway, but after a month or two they're forgotten. Why do they happen? Why do they persist? Available here and by RSS on February 8.
- And on February 15: Four Razors for Organizational Behavior
- Deviant organizational behavior can harm the people and the organization. In choosing responses, we consider what drives the perpetrators. Considering Malice, Incompetence, Ignorance, and Greed, we can devise four guidelines for making these choices. Available here and by RSS on February 15.
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