In January, I played around with the idea of gaining more attention for creative work by limiting my email activity ONLY to Fridays. It worked pretty well. There were some consequences but I think the good outweighed the bad.
There was an element of jeopardy in last month’s experiment, but it was largely manageable. I’ve also learned a lot from it and will be implementing a new way of doing email for myself this month, which I’ll continue to blog about.
However, for February, it’s time to change tack – and I’m quite scared.
This month, I am the Dice Man.
I will making decisions by the throw of a dice. I am sure I will re-read Luke Reinhard’s book “The Dice Man” which I first read about a decade ago. This month the dice will decide:
> what tasks I do (I will use my lists, and number tasks from 1 to 6.
> what shape my days will take (odds I go to the office straight away, or evens I work from home).
> what decisions I take about new things that come in…
1. do it now
2. do it later
3. delay until next week
4. ditch it completely
5. delegate it
6. do it a different way
…and a bunch of other stuff I haven’t quite figured out. If you have suggestions too, I’d love to hear them. Either comment below or email me – graham at thinkproductive.co.uk!
The patterns will change, there may be chaos. The only constant will be the change the dice brings.
WHAT’S MY HYPOTHESIS?
1. Decisions are overrated.
I think I make good decisions. You probably hold that opinion of yourself, too. But if we’re honest, how much of our decision-making is influenced by our habits, assumptions and limiting thought-processes? Could a throw of the dice bring me to places I wouldn’t take myself? And how important are our decisions anyway? There’s an old saying that one third of your decisions are right, one third are wrong and one third don’t matter anyway. In which case, the odds of the dice are stacked in my favour, right?!
2. Taking action is more important than the decision.
Confession time. Part of the reason I know I make generally very good decisions is that they take me so bloody long! This month is the one month where the idea for the theme came not from me but from Chaz, my wife. She often bears the frustration of waiting around for me to make a decision, or has to watch me take six months to reach the same conclusion she came to when the weather bore no resemblance to today. So this month is either going to prove me right, or prove her right or prove us both equally wrong and right.
3. Imperfection and Accidents are to be celebrated, not shunned.
In my book I talked about the glory hidden in imperfection. We’re sold a dream at school that every “i” should be dotted and every “t” should be crossed. And then we’re sent out into the world of a million things to do and that dream becomes a nightmare. Imperfections are often a necessary part of us “shipping”: better an imperfect dome in Florence than a castle in the sky. Could my book be 0.5% better? Of course. Should I spend the days of additional agony to work out how to do that? I don’t think so. No one wants to produce less than their very best, but there comes a point when you need to get your work out there and stop tinkering around the edges in search of perfection.
I have an unconventional attitude to mistakes. To me, they are the reminder that we’re human after all – no one can be a superhero. We can often appear that way, with all our ninja skills, but we’re human after all.
And accidents aren’t always bad. As one of my favourite songwriters Polly Paulusma once sang “Look at all the happy things that happened by accident!”. We sometimes forget that we’re all artists. Whatever your job title says, whatever you do behind that desk all day, at least some of what you do is ‘art’ – and sometimes creativity is a force to guide and submit to, not one to try and control. So this month, I hope throwing the dice helps me allow the creation of new and wonderful accidents.
4. Patterned behaviours and entrenched habits reduce our ability to think and act in better ways
We’re creatures of habit. I get up, I make tea, I check BBC Sport, I do my daily checklist. It’s not a bad start to the day – at least there’s no emails! – , but I’m already in a certain mindset because of this habit. Now, if the dice tells me to go work half a day sat in the coffee shop, or focus only on one thing for the entire day, it forces me to think differently: rather like swapping from your own familiar car to one that feels completely different. Not only are you suddenly learning more about how you drive, but you take more care of the road.
So much like email Fridays allowed me to challenge my attention habits around email and technology, I am hoping this month to challenge my daily rhythms and routines.
I am fearing that I’ll be regularly pushed outside of my comfort zone and it’ll shake up my world. I am actually also worried about finding the right 6 options and the time and energy this may take.
And of course, I’m worried because February is actually a really important month for Think Productive UK this year, as we begin to take our work internationally. There are some big decisions for me – or should I say, for the dice – to get right.
Why do we get so worked up by our work? Is our fear and stress necessary for us to get great results? Does it come from our need for control? And if we just gave up the fear around control and our need for it, perhaps we could just relax and enjoy the ride a bit more. And perhaps everything would be fine anyway.
Ultimately, though, of course I remain in control. Or at least I think I do.
Let me go and ask the dice.