Why are our days so frustrating?

THE MAIN POINT (323 words—65 seconds reading time)

How many of you go to work each morning knowing exactly what you need to do and return home each evening having accomplished exactly that? I ask this question in most of my workshops. Out of literally thousands of people, I’ve had only one person who responded, “Yes.” He was a chairman of the board who spent most of his days on the golf course. The rest of us respond, “No!”

Assuming that your response is “No,” perhaps the biggest question is: Why don’t you do something about such a frustrating, nonproductive situation? You might suspect that your reason for not resolving this issue is ignorance. (You don’t know how.) However, I believe a bigger reason is that you blame the wrong person for the problem.

Usually, we realize that the culprit in our frustrating daily pattern is the unexpected. Unexpected events, people or circumstances interfere with what would otherwise be a good day.

What comprises the unexpected? Calls from the client or boss? Employees who have a question or need help? The expanded effort to accomplish a project deliverable? These are the surprises we blame for our problem. However, these are the activities that mean we have a job in the first place. How can they be the problem? They aren’t!

If the client or boss didn’t have a need or question, they wouldn’t need you. If employees didn’t seek help or advice, they wouldn’t need you. If the project deliverables didn’t require innovation or a unique skill, you wouldn’t be necessary.

Where is it that unexpected events come from that ruin our day? It’s not the boss, the client, or the employees. We’re it. As Pogo said in the famous comic strip, “We’ve met the enemy and he is us!” We do this thing to ourselves. That’s the bad news. The good news is that since we do this to ourselves, we have the power not to do the things that ruin our day.


THE FOLLOW UP (191 words—38 seconds reading time)

Here’s what we do to ourselves:

In addition to reading in reputable places, I’ve documented that in all types of organizations we spend about 35-40% of our time related to rework. We either fix mistakes or patch up the associated problems when we make mistakes. We shouldn’t be blaming others for our own mistakes.

According to Stephen Covey, we spend 20-30% of our time on internal squabbling, interdepartmental rivalries, politicking, and interpersonal conflicts. Already, these two wasteful activities don’t leave us much time to get our real work done. We shouldn’t be blaming others for wasting time on such unproductive, and often counter-productive activities.

Furthermore, I haven’t mentioned the time lost in the frustrating experiences of poor communication, wrong or no expectations, last-minute rushing around, lost or not-received items, waiting for late meetings or people, and so many more. We need to learn better communication skills, how to set expectations, how to manage our time, and the importance of punctuality especially in meetings.

I’ll describe the solution to the situation in one word: PROCESS. Why process? What process? I’ll deal with these and other questions about process in the next few weeks.