Wow, it’s cold in here isn’t it? Have you considered getting your assistant to turn the air-conditioning down a bit? Well, maybe just to the point that I can’t see icicles on the edge of your desk. You know, icicles on the edge of the desk suggests that you might have a leak up in the ceiling… oh, spilled coffee, eh? That would explain their odd colour. What did I think they were? Rust, probably, from old air-conditioning pipes. This isn’t exactly the plushest office I’ve ever been in.
Who am I? I’m Buddy, I’m your guardian angel, at least for a little while. I’m here to help you find direction in your life, and leverage that into your business activities. Think of me as a kind of guru for work, a way to make sure you get things done.
Oh, you’ve read that, have you? You’ve not paid much attention to it though, I see. Where’s your tickler file?
That’s… not what I meant by a tickler file. Yes, yes, completely. They’re definitely ticklers. Some are even french, no you don’t need to show me… well thank-you anyway. No, I’m not going to try it out. Put it away please.
A tickler file, a file that contains items that you intend to do someday. Something you can pick up and open up when you’ve a spare moment and see what else you could be using to regiment your life. Something that contains all those things you know you want to do but never seem to have the time for, or that need more planning that you can afford to start at the moment. You know, back when I was at work I had two tickler files because one wasn’t enough to contain everything I wanted to do. It reached the point where I wasn’t looking at them anymore because I didn’t know where to start. That’s when I realised that I was so busy getting things done that I wasn’t getting anything done that I wanted to do. I wasn’t doing what was important to me. I needed to change that, and I put a note about it in my tickler file.
Three months later I woke out of a dream where I was organising cabbages in the walk-in fridge in the corporate canteen and realised that I’d forgotten about that note, and I was now doing so much around the office that they’d made three-quarters of the staff redundant. They’d turned me into a single-point of failure. I knew that I needed to do something about it, so I moved my computer into the walk-in fridge and dressed only in summer clothing.
What? Well, bermuda shorts mostly. I’m not ashamed of my body, I don’t mind being topless. No, please put your shirt back on. Well, you’re fatter than me, for a start. Look, the point was that I couldn’t spend too much time at my computer any more, so I could reduce my work-load by focusing on tasks that took longer and used my actual skills to better advantage. I stopped organising every cupboard, closet and fridge in the office and let other people struggle with their faulty filing systems. I stopped shadowing the maintenance guy and fixing all his botches and let Facilities have never-ending arguments with him and his bosses about his short-comings. I stopped reading my secretary’s mail and beating her to the punch and started reading my boss’s mail and short-circuiting his plans for advancement. I started getting things done, my way. And I suddenly had time in the day for other things, so I opened my tickler file and started doing things from there. I went sky-diving. I bungee-jumped. I volunteered for a week in a sleep-study clinic; it was the most peaceful week of my life. I loved it all.
Well yes, I think it is a motivational story, thank-you. But I can see that you’re wondering what this has to do with you. You need help, and you need a boost. Possibly you need a kick up the backside as well, but that comes later. First of all, you need to implement Inbox Zero, and then we’ll see about getting you back on the corporate ladder, getting ready to climb and achieve everything that you know, in your heart, you deserve.
Put. The. Ticklers. Away.
Inbox Zero. We need to put your PC somewhere too cold to hold, so that all your email becomes too hot to handle. We need to keep you focused on only the most essential and urgent tasks. It’ll rapidly become apparent that other people can do the other tasks when they stop depending on you to do things.
That’s a good point, let’s turn the air-con up instead of down. The chill in this office is almost enough to stop a normal man from working anyway… well, given you’re the size of a walrus, and smell unpleasantly like one too, I imagine that your blubber is insulating you better than a normal man. Don’t look at me like that, you asked. I tell the truth, dude.
Right, the air-con’s up. I wonder why the switch was padlocked though? You don’t know? Are you sure you don’t know? Oh well, one of those little corporate mysteries I suppose. You should move that plant outside. Well, because it’s going to freeze solid in the sub-zero temperatures you’re going to get in here from now on… what? Yes, wear thermals. No, I don’t want to see the catalogue, thank-you. Put it away.
Right, you’re looking a little bluer now. Are you feeling the chill? Excellent, now you can look at your email. How many messages are there in your Inbox? Eighty? That’s a lot for someone who’s getting things done… these are… these are mostly spam. Well, they’re flagged as junk here, see the little icon? Just click this. Yes, see, you’re down to eight already. Let’s read the first one and then act on it.
Right, so that needs you to speak to the CEO’s PA. No, don’t phone her, it’s too cold in here for that. You need to walk – waddle – over to her and speak to her in person. Yes, people will see you’re out of office and know that you’re not available. Trust me, I’m Buddy. It’ll work.
Damn but it’s cold in here. Still, Inbox Zero. It’s a winner, trust me!