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Monday, 31 October 2011

Break out of Catch 22

We can classify people into two groups based on the specific Catch 22 cycle they are caught up in.  Some people work hard, follow the processes they know and get the job done the same way, all the time.  The other group of people work smart, keep learning, try new things, make things efficient and end up doing well & learning a lot at the same time.  Both these groups are following Catch 22 cycles.  One is a negative Catch 22 and other a positive Catch 22.

Two different Catch-22 cycles
First group: The people in the first group get the job done.  They may even get the job done in time, all the time.  The effort they spend, though, is not efficient or effective.  You find many people in this group working late hours.  They end up being tired & not able to add other activities outside of work to the schedule.  Definitely there is very little time or motivation to learn new things. The person does not want anything related to work in their sight, after the long hours.  The end result is that the person continues to use methods learnt months or even years ago.

Second group: The people in the second group spend time to learn new ways of doing things in efficient manner.  This ensures that the job gets done on time, or even ahead of time.  Mostly regular work hours are sufficient to complete their job.  They have energy to branch into new areas & ideas.  They learn from books, articles, the web or even from others’ experiences.  This gives them more ideas to try & execute their tasks quickly.

If you feel that you are in the first group & feel that you are not able to get out of the cycle, here are some ideas to change it.

  1.  Before taking any task, take a little time to know the task well.  Understand all aspects of the task & the different view points.
  2.  Plan your work well, based on the understanding of all the aspects of the task.
  3.  If you are going to use a new software or tool, first spend time in understanding all the features of the software & tool.  Some of the features could make things easy for you.  Remember the saying “A job well begun is job well done.”
  4.  Repeat tasks must be automated.  Let the computer do the job for you.  Write macros or similar processes to ensure your efficiency increases.
  5.  Finally, learn from others ideas, tools, utilities & experiences.  Share your utilities, tools & ideas with others.

Another aspect to this change: (a) Change by self-motivation or (b) Change by external pressure.  It is better to make this jump on your own, instead of waiting for external factors to push you into the learning process.  At that time, the effort to change may be lots & lots more.  This provides even further de-motivation.  Jump now, from the first cycle into the more efficient, effective & fruitful second cycle.

Remember: The initial effort spent to learn, plan and execute, on a tangent, compared to the immediate task at hand, helps you to shoot out of the orbital path & reach for the stars.

(First published in a private magazine in October, 2000)

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