Go on an IT diet!

Yes, IT community, we’re fat. I hate to be cruel, but we could stand to lose a few. We’re bloated, slow, and unattractive. We need to go on a diet.

Obviously I’m not talking about being physically fat, but bloated with the “stuff” that consumes our companies. Our trans-fats are meetings, our complex carbohydrates are the complex processes we deploy that don’t work. We consume so much time working on projects, creating documents, and other things that add little to no nutritional value to our jobs.

A few months ago I took a look at my calendar and realized that there was only a single 30 minute window where I didn’t have a meeting scheduled that week. In many cases I was double and triple booked at the same time. My calendar was an all-you-can-buffet. An overfilled plate of fried chicken, chocolate pudding and pancakes. There was stuff on there that I didn’t need, didn’t want and having me there added little value to the objective. More importantly, where was my time to do any “real” work? What was I giving up or risking to eat at this trough?

So I went on a meeting diet. I went through my calendar and shed meetings that weren’t essential. As you might have guessed, the week was extremely productive. I realize this is a “no duh” conclusion, but like any diet, it was temporary. Last week I found myself right back at the Microsoft Outlook Family Diner. So I fasted again. And I became productive again.

As anyone who has dieted for real and kept weight off will tell you, the only way to sustain is to make a lifestyle change and form habit. So my challenge to myself and to others is how to change your habits or culture at work to constantly trim back on the work clutter that consumes your time. As you also might have guessed, this can also apply to your personal lives and the things you do that bog you down from doing the important things.

The challenge: Implement an “Anti-Google” policy. You all know the famous Google 80/20 innovation plan where employees are given a day each week to create and innovate? I’d like for you to do the opposite. Maybe not a day, but look to dedicate a mandatory period of time to kill things, not create them. What meetings aren’t important? Kill em. What processes don’t work? Kill em. What system are old and outdated that waste your time? Yeah, kill them too. 30 minutes abs…how about a 30 minute slash?

Opening up time by removing the things that are not critical will obviously lead to more time to do the things that matter. So look to change your culture and make your IT diet sustainable and engrained. Live a healthy workload lifestyle and see how much more you can accomplish.

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About thefoaguy

Comcast Chief Architect, Innovator and Social Media Junkie. View all posts by thefoaguy

One response to “Go on an IT diet!

  • Kundan Bapat

    Good post. One thing I do to avoid too many meetings is to ferret out that one person who has the information you are looking for and call him/her.

    Some people don’t like it and would rather have an email sent or setup a meeting. But until I am told otherwise by that person, I just pick up the phone and a 5 minute conversation covers what a typical hour’s worth of meeting would.

    One of the obvious ‘duh’s for the meetings is having a set agenda. Without it, the meetings become a ‘free for all’; and none is wiser coming out of it, than while getting into it. Setting agenda is all the more important when its a bunch of ‘thinkers’, each one with an opinion, itching to share. While occassionally its good to have these brain dump sessions, for routine business meetings, a set agenda keeps this ‘urge to contribute’ in check….

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