Career Opportunities

The High-Tech Career Handbook

A weekly ComputorEdge Column by Douglas E. Welch

A "Doing Day"

November 5, 2004

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Over the past several weeks I have been writing a lot about thinking…thinking about your purpose, your future and your goals. While thinking is certainly important, all of your good ideas might just go to waste if you don’t combine that thinking with a little bit of doing. Your thinking has probably generated a host of to-do items and ideas for larger projects. Now is the time put some of those ideas into motion.

Get something done

While I normally try to include some implementation time into every workday, sometimes I need to schedule a “Doing Day.” This is a day totally dedicated to implementation. Perhaps you need to add or update pages on your web site or create a proposal for a new product. It can be something as simple as getting your new printer installed or something as complicated as launching a new ad campaign. If you are like me, you probably have many items, tasks, to-dos that need to be addressed. Collect all of your notes (You have been keeping notes, haven’t you?) and put together a list of all the things, big and little, that you need to move forward or, even better, complete.

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed, though. Everyone, if they think hard enough, can come up with enough to-do items to fill a notebook. List everything, no matter how small. You will find that it is in these small steps that you find the most accomplishment. It is often the “little things” that are holding up the biggest projects, so don’t ignore them.
You can try and place them in some rough priority, although it really doesn’t matter how you work through the list. Some items will rely on the completion of other tasks, so they will naturally fall in order. Beyond that, though, it really isn’t important. I want you to concentrate on getting something done today, not more thinking about the priority of each task. Today is for doing. Tomorrow you can think.

One recommendation…put the nastiest, most complicated and, usually, the most ignored projects right at the top of your list. Today is the day to make some forward movement on tasks that you have been avoiding. You want to be fresh and full of energy when you attack these projects, though, so you need to face them first thing. You can always shift to other, less demanding, projects as your energy wanes, but you definitely want to start here. Also, you can fit smaller tasks in and around your daily life more easily. You will have time in the coming days to work on them. Big projects require big chunks of time, so take that time now.

As much as possible

Don’t worry about not completing all your tasks. You would have to be super-human to do that. This day isn’t about getting it ALL done, just getting SOMETHING done. Any progress is good progress and dedicating a day to implementation will have effects far beyond this one day. When we successfully complete a task, no matter how small, it gives us energy to attack the next…and the next. Implementation can be a self-powering engine. The more you get done, the more you feel like doing. The good feelings you generate today will spill over into all areas of your life, both personal and professional.

While you are working on your projects, you will find yourself generating lots of new ideas for projects and reminders of work that needs to be done. Don’t let these ideas distract you from the tasks at hand, though. Keep your notebook by your side and simply jot down enough information to jog your memory later. These new thoughts will go back into a tracking system so that you can start to implement them, as well.

While it would be great to keep a “doing” focus as part of every day, sometimes we need to bring our focus to bear on implementing our most important ideas. There has to be a balance between thinking and doing, and a “doing day”, every so often, is one way to re- establish that balance. When you are out of balance, it can effect your life, your work and your career. Don’t let implementation issues pile up until they reach a crisis point. Take a day, or more to get yourself back on track and keep your career moving forward.


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