I’ve been spending a lot of time the last few weeks trying to feel “caught up.” In part, it’s the consequent of a holiday weekend that ended with a cold. In part, it’s the result of a shifting workload. In part, well hey, it is winter.
With that being said, I’ve had a few minutes to think about the way some tasks seem to quickly balloon to take up much more time than they ought to, and the way others seem to fly by.
I thought about this in particular when I was working earlier this week to build out an email template for a project we’re working on.
There was nothing particularly challenging about the project.
All of the assets that were going to get used in the finished product had already been made. Handful of article links, handful of pictures — very standard stuff.
At this point, I have a pretty robust collection of templates. It means that projects like this really can be plug and play. On occasion I might have to fire up a code editor and make a few superficial tweaks, but when it comes to our email flow, that’s pretty rare.
All things considered, I was looking at a two hour project.
A far cry from the six it ultimately took.
I was really surprised by that. It gave me a minute to think about some of the different reasons things fall off schedule.
The truth is, many of those reasons are perfectly legitimate. Getting distracted by something you don’t want to be doing doesn’t seem like one of those reasons — and really, when I stop to think about it, that really is what I was doing.
I’d break up the task into smaller more manageable chunks. Each time I’d finish a chunk I’d take a few minutes to regroup. I was disciplined about the balance, but the chunks kept getting smaller and smaller.
It’s just too easy to fall into the trap of wasting time when you’re working.
A few years ago, I had stumbled into a situation where I really had to push myself to do something I didn’t want to do. It wasn’t easy, but after what felt like weeks of banging my head against the wall, I found a shortcut.
It was a similar situation. I was behind and I needed to catch up. It felt like one of those situations where the only way out was through.
I found that if I could find one thing I liked about the task at hand, everything got a little easier.
Some of the work that goes into maintaining your team’s media presence is mind numbing. Lots of well meaning people will try and tell you to avoid it, but you just can’t. Comments need to be read by someone. Somebody’s got to decide what’s worth including in a read-out report. You’ve got to find a way to make the time for moving pixels around until they fit. The consequences of not doing that stuff is readily apparent.
But to get through it? You’ve got to take a step back and remind yourself of why you started in the first place. If you can capture that enthusiasm, it’s a lot easier to avoid wasting time like I did with those email templates.