Think Bigger, Do Smaller, Deliver Better
Ah! The boggy weeds! The muddy bog! Call it what you will. We all are familiar with the place where Global Creatives get stuck in minutia hell.
It's the place of productivity purgatory, where little is accomplished and momentum is zapped. It is often the small detail work that we abhor but must do on occasion. It seems the expression Stuck in the Weeds was created with us in mind. It is a giant source of procrastination. It would be great if we could steer clear of these sticky spots but small tasks and equally small transitions are a part of any professional day.
What is a muddy bog for you?
How many times did you visit the bog this week?
Moving Beyond Procrastination
In these situations we may be thinking that the problem is procrastination. Procrastination is an avoidance state where we really have not identified the obstacle or the opportunity. ADHD and related executive function activity can delay recognition (awareness) of this state and also delay activation to get out of this state. So start by moving out of this state of thinking. When caught in the boggy weeds it's a good time to check your relative levels of thinking and doing. You may be thinking too small and conversely you may be doing too big when working on a task better suited for someone with a complementary skillset.
Global Creatives are natural big thinkers and yet boggy weed situations can force them into avoiding (procrastination) and limited thinking - sometimes a faulty sequence thinking like "I must finish this task before I can move forward". Sounds inert enough but dig in and it reveals a real kryptonite moment for the big thinking Global Creative. Like the front line trenches of World War I we can 'dig in' to a position or perspective and then create a standoff with ourselves and the task. Resourcefulness and creativity drop to Absolute Zero and voila, stuck like a swamp buggy in the Florida Everglades with out your big thinking assets like optimism, vision and hope.
In concert with small thinking we will try to engage in big doing, biting off much more than one can do at one sitting. This is the stairwell with no landings phenomenon I illustrate in my Focus and Followthrough post. Global Creatives do not appreciate the natural stopping points for a project or task because we don't notice them. Muscling out a completion is actually a good practice but muscling with little progress over a sustained period needs to be avoided. Often the Global Creative can confuse effort with progress here.
Swap the way you think about doing and thinking.
Thinking bigger is about thinking more expansive. We often focus on the problem and miss the bigger opportunity. Our associative processor does better with bigger thinking, giving us access to the bigger picture, vision and more resources. This is the stuff of Carol Dweck and her book Mindset which distinguishes growth mindset from fixed mindset.
Doing smaller is about honoring strength areas. We can put a premium on doing - any doing - even if we are struggling in someone else’s strength area. So as we get deeper in the weeds and lose perspective we also lose sight of our tools and respond by using the only tool we have in our hand - a shovel. We can see the inherent problem here. In digging we think like the gold miners on the Discovery Channel - attack the problem with a bigger shovel! Excessive digging will not get you out of your trench.
Doing smaller is about strategic doing, doing just enough to get unstuck and utilizing the right tools.
A few tips:
Use the 85% rule to offset all-or-nothing thinking
Swap strategy for muscle. Stop putting so much stock in sweat equity (in this unique situation) and put the shovel down. Step back from the task to get perspective
Enlist the help of others with tools OTHER THAN SHOVELS! (Sorry for the caps but it's amazing how groups suffer from group think in stuck situations)
Build ladders - This forces you to drop the shovel and think about extraction processes and the specialists with unique talents and tools to aid in this effort. It also lets people move back to areas of strength and competence
Anticipate when you are entering into a boggy area in the future.
When you commit to thinking bigger and doing smaller you will ultimately deliver better - the quality of your deliverables will improve and they will come with greater ease and less effort.