Quadrant Thinking

Time is slipping by. As an early morning guy, its been dark when I’ve come in during this past week, and dark when I’ve left. As an admitted workaholic, sometimes I need to ensure my schedule contains breaks where I force myself to get away from the desk – to take a walk, or to drive off campus for 30 minutes – so that I get a mental break. I thoroughly enjoy what I do, and there’s still so much to learn as I continue to ramp up with my new team, and there never seems to be enough time.

I’m finding that the secret to longevity here at Microsoft is time management. I know, I know….this is one of those “no duh” moments (so many of which are well-documented on Kathy Sierra’s blog). But its also therapeutic to write about them, and have some clarity of thought on the issue. There are so many things clamoring for your attention, so much information flying at you all day every day (it’s called “drinking from the firehose”), that you need to have a game plan for dealing with it all.

I’ve written a couple times about a favorite book — The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt, who also wrote The Theory of Constraints. In the story, the main character is a manufacturing plant manager, working to save his factory from being shut down. As he looks down the manufacturing line, he starts to recognize bottlenecks in the process which cause the overall workflow to break, and at first tries to solve the problems by attacking each bottleneck, one at a time — with limited success. Recognizing our bottlenecks is, of course, an important step in the process, but the bigger issue — and where most people are not successful when it some to time management — is stepping back to look at the larger workflow. It’s easier to be reactive and firefight the symptoms of your time issues than it is to improve the root cause.

I have a lot I want to accomplish on this team: rejuvenate the onboarding process, “productize” the pilot and training experience, write numerous scenario-based papers around enterprise SharePoint solutions — and possibly package them as a book. Clearly, my ability to reach my stretch goals is tied to mastership of my “professional workflow” and my ability to prioritize the various activities that flow across my desk each day. These priorities were captured so succinctly by Covey:

  1. Important and Urgent (crises, deadline-driven projects)
  2. Important, Not Urgent (preparation, prevention, planning, relationships)
  3. Urgent, Not Important (interruptions, many pressing matters)
  4. Not Urgent, Not Important (trivia, time wasters)

Yes, my post is nothing more than an inward reflection this morning. I guess the point here is that its an ongoing process. It takes patience and consistency, and hard work. I’m a big believer in just putting your head down and working hard. Just don’t ask me to read one of his books again. I’m sorry, but push those things down to the bottom of the second quadrant.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of revealit.io, a blockchain-based video technology company.