GAH! When Random & Sequential Thinking Collide

(Mondays are Lynn Miles Peisker days at The Daily Blur. Lynn’s the Executive Sister and Chief Plate Spinner at the Imagination Advisory Group. Check out her growing archive of posts here.)

I am a sequential person living in a random world right now, and it’s not working for me.

A couple of moves, changing jobs and travel have all led to getting away from the edges and corners and policies and procedures that I set for myself to help life work well.  I need to get them back. I need a daily routine that includes:

  • clearly-defined tasks and expectations,
  • quiet time for reflection,
  • good food and exercise,
  • plenty of water,
  • interactions with life-giving friends and family members.

I work best sequentially.  Sequential works for me and helps others in our little company know what’s next.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We need random in our line of work. We get paid to connect dots that others don’t see.

But we also get paid to deliver on deadlines.

Random gives us the creative juice we need to be awesome.  But we think it’s the sequential edges and corners and policies and procedures that can take us to the next level.

So, how do you consciously balance random and sequential?

I use some simple tools every day to give our business these essential edges and corners.  You may find them helpful as well.  It’s a short list because I find that managing and updating too many applications reduces my effectiveness.

CalendarAt the Imagination Advisory Group, we use iCal but I have also used Google Calendar and Outlook with great success as well.  We have deadlines and goals for our clients calendared out through April of next year.  We use dry erase year-at-a-glance posters for travel schedules because balancing time at home and on the road is important.  Calendars link to all our mobile devices and computers as well.    Paper calendars are great too if that works better for you – just a little harder to share.  The secret is to not just look at your calendar but to use it as a planning and communication tool.

eMail – Make your email system work for you too.  Publishing exec and blogger Michael Hyatt says you should end each day with an empty inbox.  I file most email in labeled mailboxes in Mail for Mac and then clean them out once a quarter.   I keep what will be useful in the future or archive for company history.  For personal use, I love Gmail.  I archive anything that isn’t junk and the powerful search engine helps me find anything in a hurry.

To Do ListOur company currently uses The Hit List, but we are always exploring systems that will help us serve our clients better.  I am currently looking at a couple of different systems we may launch for 2013.  I’ll keep you posted on anything we love better than The Hit List.  For home use, I rely on my Grandma June’s chalkboard hung on a wall in my kitchen and a grocery list application that my husband and I use and love.

EvernoteHands down my favorite tool for storing, sorting and using information.  I use it for everything from blog research to recipes.  It’s flexible between devices and other uses.  I admit it took some getting used to.  I had a great tutorial from my daughter who uses Evernote to organize materials for her PhD studies and her many creative pursuits.  I do keep paper folders as well because I like paper, but I hardly ever share my methods anymore as fewer and fewer people are paper people.

DropboxThis is our favorite storage facility. We also use it to share materials within our companies and with clients.  It’s great for backing up systems too, although I recommend using an external hard drive as well.  Go ahead and pay for the storage you need; it’s worth it in the long run. (How about a reality show where we auction off the contents of abandoned Dropbox accounts?  Could be interesting!)

How about you?  Are you random or sequential?  Years ago when our children were young, I read a very helpful book that talked about the difference.  I found it helpful to know that both styles are valid but that I am most comfortable living in a sequential world.

Here’s to a successful week of checking things off from our sequential lists and enjoying a little bit of random along the way!

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Lynn Peisker

Lynn Peisker is a farmer’s daughter from Central Illinois and the Director of Client Services for The Imagination Advisory Group. She loves sorting everything from socks to ideas and feels optimism and empathy are essential to success. She keeps the plates spinning at Miles & Co, connecting good companies with customers.

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