The world’s messy – get used to it

One of the great things about Twitter is that it brings articles to my attention that I wouldn’t otherwise have read. This blog post originated in one of those articles. It’s here – in it, the writer notes that managers and creatives tend to work on different chunks of time for getting things done – for managers hour diary slots are usually adequate, but for creatives an hour barely gives you time to get going. So far so good – I’ve written a Joe’s Jottings piece in which I mention that my own to-do list doesn’t deal in units of time much under half a day.

The writer then goes on to comment on how his organisation – a venture capital outfit – runs it’s diary slots on the ‘maker’ basis rather than the ‘manager’ basis. And turns the whole thing in to a selling point for their services. OK – at one level this is a good example of catering your working practices to your client base, but it started me thinking again about the increasing tendency I’ve witnessed in the last year or so amongst start up companies and those catering for them towards over-complicating what are really quite straight forward and, in some cases, old fashioned, good personal and business management skills and techniques.

I’m just getting a little tired of seeing things that are just this side of bleedin’ obvious being touted as if they were the bastard intellectual offspring of an orgy between Wittgenstein, Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and Drucker.

I wear a number of hats in my day to day life; I’m a husband, cat-wrangler, consultant, software developer, charity Trustee, line manager, householder, social entrepreneur…you get the picture. Each of these activities requires me to operate in different ways – sometimes I’m working to someone else’s priorities, sometimes to my own. Oddly enough these things all get recorded in the same diary, with prioritisation and time-slots allocated to the job in hand. If there’s a day on which I want to do development work, I block it out in my diary – the things that will shift me from that are family or major line management issues. If I have a board meeting, I block out the morning or afternoon. It’s called time-management, prioritisation and flexibility. It’s an essential component of what is needed to get stuff done in a world that is messy.

It’s important for startups to get used to the idea that sooner or later they’re going to have to get used to dealing with the world the way it is, not the way they’d like it to be. Pandering from VC companies doesn’t help this; people in startups learning the basics of time and diary management and prioritisation will.

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