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    Knowing Your Limits

    March 05, 2004

    Information overload is over us, under us, and all around us.  Just finding your desk some days is half the battle, and scraps of paper and VIP notes are constantly in danger of fluttering away if someone opens a window at the wrong time of day.  "Organized!" you scream, "I've got to get myself Organized!"

    Easier said than done, obviously.

    Here are a few words from the wise (not mine, thank you very much):

    • Divide large projects into smaller ones.  (A variation on 'Divide and Conquer').
    • Use your time in line (or traveling) to get work done, rather than getting angry about the delay.
    • Your Computer crashes when you ask it do multitask - so do people.  Take one thing at a time.
    • Consider: Does this project have to be done perfectly, or is it 'good enough for government work?'
    • Prioritize projects - what really really needs to get done so you boss doesn't chew you out?
    • Touch paper only once. Throw it out, file it into an easily findable drawer, or answer it.
    • Start the day by calmly making a list of short-term & long-term tasks; check them off when done.
    • End the day by figuring out what didn't get done & move it to tomorrow's 'first things to do' list.
    • Set a time for return calls, emails, and 'interrupter' activities.  Your productive time is valuable.
    • Practice saying 'No'.  Just because someone asks nicely doesn't mean you have to commit to do it.

    Remember, you are only human, not some kind of automated work machine.  You were not made to plug in, drink five cups of coffee, and work like some kind of whirling dervish for ten hours.  The average workweek may have expanded to almost fifty hours, but Employers are crazy if they think they are going to double worker productivity every year.

    Also, know your limitations.  You should pay attention when your stress level is shooting through the roof, and take steps to ease back a little.  No one else can see inside your head and figure out that you're about to blow up, taking no prisoners.  Knowing your limitations and acting accordingly is different from arguing for your limitations. 

    Richard Bach aptly noted in his classic book Illusions :  "If you argue for your limitations long enough, they are yours for life."  Knowing your limitations doesn't imply that you should shy away from testing your abilities and making a concerted effort to grow and learn new things.

    - Staff

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