Monday 17th December 18:16

"Spring Cleaning"

Hi everyone,

Two seemingly unconnected events occurred here this week; one bad, one good.

First, the bad news. I lost a whole lot of excellent training material when my memory stick failed. A couple of weeks' work saved on the stick and now just refusing to show up on any of my computers.

Of course, as anyone with an ounce of computer sense will tell you, I should have backed up. It's the sensible thing to do and the obvious. But, lulled into a false sense of "it'll never happen to me", I didn't and now I'm paying the price in re-work and lost time.

Now on to the good news. Here in the UK, it looks like Spring has finally sprung. We've had the most glorious blue skies for the past week. The beach has been golden, the sea shimmering, and the air warm.

So, of course, you're dying to know: what connects the two?

Well, quite simply: maintenance.

Let me explain.

On our Time Management courses at ManageTrainLearn, we like to use a time management system called "The 4 Elements". This system categorises every single task you do at work into one of four types.

First, there are Progress jobs which are tasks that lead to new goals. These are like project tasks and go towards creating a new end result.

Second, there are tasks we do with others. These tasks are different from progress work because, although they may be creating something new, they depend on our ability to get along with others.

Third, there are tasks that don't involve any active doing. These non-doing tasks are things like thinking, planning, learning, reviewing, and resting.

Finally, there are routine tasks, the tasks that we need to do to keep things ticking over, to keep things on an even keel, to keep ourselves safe and grounded.

However, if you're like me, routine tasks are the least attractive of the four types of task. They're not fun, they're not exciting, and they're not restful. But they are essential.

And that's why I got into so much trouble with failing to back up my computer information. I'd forgotten to make it a routine task.

I always think that Spring is a reminder to pay attention to the routine tasks in our lives. After all, it's the time of year when we literally dig over the ground to prepare for new growth in the year ahead. It's the time when we notice the loose guttering, the dirty windows, and the faulty cracks in the stonework. It's the time of year for cleaning up the mess of winter. Spring is a good reminder to make routine and maintenance a regular part of a time-and-task action plan.

I hope this is a lesson I've learned: to give as much attention to the maintenance of my life's routines as I should to bringing work assignments in on time or spending time with colleagues or just sitting and dreaming.

After all, as someone reminded me when I told them this story, the word "maintenance" is derived from the Latin word "manus", meaning "hand" or "tool".

And so is the word "management".

Eric

Copyright 2012