What an old sergeant can teach you…
I remember years ago when I was a young man in the service (kid, actually) talking to an old, retiring sergeant. In the age of fax machines, electric typewriters, and the ever-so-faint glimmering dawn of personal computing, he still ran his entire operation using a clipboard, some note paper and a pencil – not a pen – a pencil.
If someone needed special training, it was on his clipboard. If there was a pay problem with one of his troops, it was on the clipboard. Change to the training schedule? On the clipboard. Commander’s meeting? On the clipboard. Nothing went on the clipboard that wasn’t important and nothing came off the clipboard until the action was complete.
He told me, at the time, he felt like a relic. It was 1980, the Army was changing and guys who used clipboards were on the way out.
I confess, I still use a No 2 pencil and a steno pad.
Make no mistake, I love technology. But there comes a point of diminishing returns when you try to put everything into the computer. By the time you logon, find your Outlook and record your “to-do” activity you could have been done with a steno pad and pencil.
Let’s face it; sometimes tech is neither faster nor better.
Which brings me to my point.
What mattered to the Sergeant was getting the job done – not making sure it was logged in, had a paper trail or a meeting scheduled (in which everyone and his brother was invited or copied). He wasn’t worried about looks. He just wanted the problems or issues in front of him so he knew what needed to be done next.
He then spent his time actually getting things done.
Concentrate on getting things done. Use whatever means you desire to record your list or your activity, but don’t get caught up getting the list down in the right format. Just get it down as quickly as possible and begin your work.
Believe me, no one will remember if you had a computerized list, clipboard or a steno pad to keep track of things. But they will remember if you succeeded or failed in your work. Paper trails and meetings are wonderful things. But solving problems and getting results are what you’re paid for. And ultimately what you’re judged on.
Until next time…