View Full Version : GTD in a "Deliver-on-Demand" environment
12-17-2004, 12:52 AM
This is a bit of a repeat of my last post (...Calendar). While I wrote it, I could see how much of my stress and calendar problem is due to the "deliver on demand" nature of my environment. I am expected to be prepared and available on certain days for certain events but their exact time is not determined as the higher up will not or cannot commit. Even "firm" appointments get changed at the very last last minute . Change can mean re-scheduled, postponed indefinitley, cancelled, made more complex or more simple. At the last minute I may have to deliver sooner than I expected or in a different format and or something I prepared over a long period of time is just abandonned. Although some of these abandonned projects get resurrected at a future time. At the beginning of the week, if I ask a lot of questions, over and over, I can more or less figure that on certain days I will need to be ready with certain materials by 2:00 pm but the actual meeting time may be anywhere between 2 and 6, and the time allowed for presentation may start out at 45 minutes but could be reduced to 15 or increased to 90, or at the last minute I may be told "don't present your findings, give me a one page summary", or vice versa. If the most important meetings actually take place early in the week, the possible times blocked out for them later in the week can usually be used at my discretion. So how does one modify GTD for this type of situation? I have been copeing by having many elements in place at all times (supplies, resources, data), aways having both a full report to present, a little chart, and a summary, never telling a client that I can get back to them by a specific time, and on occasion just saying "no, that's not possible, unless I have more notice". In regard to the calendar, I keep those 2 to 6pm slots open and have n/a lists at the ready, but when you are not sure if you are off or on, it is hard to do more than water a plant and as a result other responsibilities suffer!
12-17-2004, 12:20 PM
It seems to me you have two problems, one is an erosion of trust between you and your manager, and two is the stress that that erosion of trust brings to your schedule.
As I see it, your current work situation is unsustainable. Sure, work happens in a "complex, dynamic environment" but it sounds like you are not just your manager's personal assistant, but rather someone who also has responsibilities to outside clients. You are being asked to do the impossible, and if nothing changes you will fail. You need to either establish a good, trusting dialogue with your manager. Or be 70% prepared for every meeting he or she schedules and do the rest of the work if necessary.
On the other hand, your manager may have legitimate reasons to have time-windows for meetings or for cancelling them. You need to learn to relax and be more flexible about the timing of meetings.
12-20-2004, 12:13 PM
I appreciate such an insightful response and I guess I aim for being ready for all the major possiblities, now that I have figured out what they usually are. I would like to know how to do that with as little stress as possible so as to have the energy to be creative. A couple of other factors that are difficult in this situation are: my manager takes most feedback as personal criticism; seems to accept new approaches if they are introduced in small pieces or can run smoothly without his having to adjust to anything, and every so often without warning will announce "okay, I've go nothing on my schedule, so what do we need to be doing?" That is usally a cue for me to remind hom of the status of various projects and that I am waiting for him to give me a specification or the go-ahead.
12-20-2004, 01:39 PM
I can really relate to a couple of your difficulties and just wanted you to know that there's someone else out there dealing with some of the same stuff. My manager responds to feedback in much the same manner, even when feedback is about the organization or processes and not about her. Similarly, change in pretty much anything we do requires extreme incramentalism. I'm starting to actually keep a list of "changes I'm working towards," which seems counterproductive at times, but at least I can see that progress is being made!
12-29-2004, 01:12 PM
About approaching a boss (or anyone for that matter) on a sensitive subject, I highly recommend this book. I just finished it and it was an answer to prayer for me and it sounds like it could help you deal with your boss.
Crucial Confrontations: Tooks for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, and Bad Behavior
Authors: Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.
It's well written, highly readable.