I made a slide for a virtual presentation I’m doing next Tuesday that keeps running around in my head. The new norm: average and normal will not create enough energy to turn the tide we are all facing. As the business marketplace experienced massive interruption, normal processes that created energy slowed. I once hired someone from a national recruiting machine to join our company that I referred to as a premium boutique company. After 4 months I watched in confusion as his productivity sputtered, never firing to the levels he claimed to have previously accomplished. What I eventually realized was missing was the monolith he worked for churned energy through the massive influx of data, the people who sought the company out, the overflow of opportunity from working with a large cross-functional team. When he joined us, he had to create his own juice every day, all day.
That’s where we are now. Each of us has to fight the droning “is catastrophe around the corner (probably not), will the job market return, unemployment fall (always has, always will).” Psychologists are pointing to studies on how draining our current situation is. The atmosphere of uncertainty requires for leaders and followers alike to be energy making machines.
I’ve been pondering how do we create energy. Studies are showing how our current circumstance of precautions to battle COVID 19 and the uncertainty of a constricted marketplace has challenged us to be more focused, better planned. Effective leaders ramp up clarity in direction and connection. Most recruiters and business development professionals are in transition between the company office and working from home. Energy for many is being drained as we balance our workload with spouses also establishing home offices, while at the same time we teach our kids or now run a summer camp. Exhaustion is reached earlier in the day, well before we put our heads on the pillows.
So how do we create more energy? Energy is generated from shifting broad beams of light to the pinpoint accuracy of lasers. The same is true in managing our time. We don’t have 8-hour days. We have a day broken into eight one hour blocks. In rethinking the calendar into blocks of time, we start creating energy.
Over the past two weeks I’ve shifted into “Micro Blocks”. Challenge yourself to focus your attention on the most pressing activity you have for 45 minutes, which is much less than doing something for an hour. How much territory can you cover in 45 minutes? How many business development or recruiting outreaches can you initiate in less than an hour? What administrative mound can you whittle?
This is more than a mind game. It’s keeping your attention to the most important objective you have and pushing with intensity to make it a reality (like writing this blog). Then after 45 minutes, take 15 minutes to reset, to replenish. Spend time with the kids, talk to your spouse, walking up the street to stare at the trees. Walk down the hall and wave at someone if you’ve gone back to the office (social distancing rules apply). Then you return to your desk to sprint toward another micro block and the next set of objectives. The micro block is designed to create energy that comes from focus.
Someone’s ability to create their own energy has a high influence on success in their career. I can honestly say it is an attribute that has never been needed more, at work and at home. Small snippets yield high returns. Micro blocks…make the engine hum.