Make Monday the no-break day

Monday is one of those days where you feel like you are fighting off a pack a bees.
You are snapped out of the bliss of your weekend and into the teeth of the real world and you don’t know what to tackle first. Here’s an idea: Devote Monday to handling things that would otherwise break if neglected.

I’ve been influenced for a long time by the quadrant work of Stephen Covey (First Things First) and I’m sure that many of you already appreciate the magic of his system. Knowing the difference between urgent/important and important/not urgent is a real time saver. In the last few years, I’ve started to use a pretty simple system of defining each action item as if it were made of one of three things: Glass, Metal and Rubber.

If I drop an action item made of glass, something gets broken. It has a guaranteed negative outcome not to do it.

If I drop and action item made of metal, nothing gets broken — but there will be plenty of noise and maybe even a dent claimed.

If I drop an action item made of rubber, it will will probably bounce either back to the tasker or to the right person. This is probabaly an action item that is either silly or not my role.

Once you start to use this, you’ll find that Monday is a day to deal with glass. Your goal is to have only a few things made of glass in your jugle loop at any given time. You want to be important to the business, essential, but you don’t want to be like Lucille Ball in the famous candy/conveyor belt scene.

You’ll also learn to appreciate the action items made of metal. You might want to think about who you do projects with. They intimidated you into agreeing to it, and they’ll shout from the mountain tops if you don’t deliver 100%. You don’t want many of these either. But some are regular obligations you cannot get out of, so they are still noisey and necessary. They will get over your candor, so long as you are still on the team and not holding them in contempt.

Try this system out next Monday. Write down everything you think you “need to do” and write glass, metal or rubber next to each one. If you manage someone, have them do this as an exercise. Talk to your team about how they can support or “spot” each other when carrying an action item made of glass.