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Put yourself on the line

Put yourself on the line
Football Field

“Why don’t you join me on the line?” Do you think I’m inviting you to get on a conference call? Is the football player in you visualizing the scrimmage line? Does ‘on the line’ mean anything in particular to you?

The line that we’re going to look at today is the line that separates risk from safety. It separates the unpredictable from the predictable. It divides security from opportunity. The line also separates variety from sameness; possibility from lack; and adventure from monotony.

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As we’ve grown most of us have created a line that we don’t cross. The side we’re on is comfortable, familiar, and secure. We have developed a great life on our side of the line. It includes a good circle of friends, colleagues we trust and enjoy, a lifestyle that fulfills, and work that sustains. An example of this is living in an area where we know our neighbors, working at one company for an extended period of time, and engaging in a regular activity such as the tennis league. It is illustrated in driving the same route to the office day after day, stopping at the same convenience store for coffee every day, and reading the same author over and over. Any risk on our side tends to be minimized and controlled. For example, a person might play as a guest on your hockey team. As a guest he’s been invited and approved by someone you trust. Little risk that he’s going to be a mismatch for the personality of the team or an outright jerk.

The other side of the line can also be comfortable and even better than where we are now. If we don’t cross the line by a distance, we might simply move our line out farther and add something to the mix we have now. Benefits of experiencing the other side can range from a new job opportunity, a new locale with more like minded people, or expanded prospects. The other side might simply include things that make our life better. That might mean new conveniences, fewer stresses, welcome cross pollination of ideas. It might expand our capacity to try more because we’ve gone to a place we’re frightened of and succeeded. The benefits are probably unseen because we’ve been comfortable on our side of the line.

Let’s cross the line and do something over there. This does include taking a risk and probably getting out of our comfort zone. It is also likely to build our bravery, increase our inventory of good stories to share with others, and bring us new friends and opportunities. Think of the kid who always asked the pretty girls for dates. He was turned down many more times than accepted. Yet, by simply asking there was the chance that she might say, “Yes.” And some girls did say yes. This guy probably had the ability to bounce back from rejecting, creative ways to approach the girls, and a lot of fun. He likely didn’t take the rejection as a blow to his ego but looked at rejection as simply the need to redirection his attention and try again. Resilience describes that guy!

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So let’s get ready and cross the line with something small like driving a different route to work or big like replacing the usual vacation location for somewhere new. The whole idea is to grow, have fun, and experience something fresh.

Let’s list a few possibilities to serve as triggers for you to decide what to try.

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  • Eat lunch with someone different once a week for the rest of the year so that you meet someone interesting and increase your business network.
  • Get a recommendation for a new author in your favorite genre. Amazon’s suggestions is a place for ideas. Enter you favorite author and Amazon will say, “People who buy this also like….”
  • Try instant messaging if you’ve been technology challenged.
  • Dress in a style that someone else identifies for you. Invite someone with a look you like or whose taste you appreciate to help you select the top, bottom & accessories and give it try.

Let us know what you try and how it goes. The alternative is to stay in same old same old ~ hope you love it there if you do.

Susan Sabo is the creative mind at ProductivityCafe.com. She works with clients to help them get the right things done and to get home at a reasonable time. Her biggest step over the line was into the mountains of Nepal – Torang Pass at 18,000+ feet. Her toes got nipped with frost bite while her limits were reset beyond all previous boundaries.

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Last Updated on April 8, 2019

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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  1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
  2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
  3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
  4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
  5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
  6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
  7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
  8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
  9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
  10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
  11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
  12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
  13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
  14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
  15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
  16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
  17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
  18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
  19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
  20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
  21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
  22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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