Create Space to Think (part 2)

Making space between activities can be done solo, without allies. But industry norms and workplace culture might pull you back into chronic busyness.

Norms are standards or principles of action that apply to a group. A culture is made up of norms. Effective leadership from the top reduces the burden on individuals who seek to have more margin in their day.

In episode 35 of The Incrementalist, you will learn:

1) Creating space solo, without allies, is doable. But it’s easier to sustain when you have support. Interactions with others and not just your own actions lead to positive change. 

2) To shift mindset, you start with yourself. Cut down on unnecessary meetings, stop interrupting others, and keep your emails clear and brief. Avoid being redundant without being harsh and cold. 

3) How to check and process emails

a) Four points to consider when it comes to emails:

  • Is it mandatory or optional?
  • Could you reduce the time spent on this message? 
  • Could you opt out or leave others out of the thread?
  • Is it better to stay out of the email inbox and focus on the real task?

b) Why you need to watch out for the email shadow (the dark cloud of distraction that takes you out of the present moment) 

c) When you may declare email bankruptcy (hit delete and start from a clean slate)

d) The yellow list allows you to capture ideas and information for another person and reduces interruptions brought by sporadic messages

4) How to avoid overuse of digital devices, which lead to absent presence

  • Delete the apps from your phone
  • Reduce the just checks
  • Do phone narration to let the other person know what you’re doing when you pick up your digital device

5) The skill of saying no by sandwiching it between two yeses or using the hourglass method

6) When assigning tasks or delegating projects, spotlight what’s most important. (The to-do list can be confusing and overwhelming.) 

7) The 50/50 Rule: “Anything that bothers you at work is 50% your responsibility until you’ve asked for what you want.” 

8) A four-step approach to express your truth with less stress: vent, empathize, prepare, share

9) The importance of selecting the right medium for the message you want to share

a) The two types of communication

  • 2D communication involves simple issues, yes/no answers. 
  • 3D communication is more nuanced and complex. They benefit from verbal cues, tone of voice and eye contact. 

b) The two types of mediums

  • A 2D medium is static, like email, Slack, and instant messages.
  • A 3D medium is live, like telephone, video and face to face meetings.

c)  A 2D message is efficient in a 2D medium and wastes time in a 3D medium. A 3D message is effective in a 3D medium, and compromises richness in a 2D medium. 

10)  In meetings, the three key questions to ask yourself before you say something are: Is it kind? Is it honest? Is it necessary? 

  • Just because something is kind and honest doesn’t mean it needs to be said.
  • Just because something needs to be said doesn’t mean it needs to be said by you.
  • Just because something needs to be said by you doesn’t mean it needs to be said now. 

11) How to find out if you’re in an SBH (Shouldn’t Be Here) situation and negotiate your way out of it

12) Fix the road, not the car. Isolated Interventions are quick, short-sighted fixes to complicated issues. 

13) As a change catalyst and leader, you speak the language of the person you seek to engage. 

  • Making judgments and using force and commands don’t sit well and is bound to spark underground sabotage and outright resistance.
  • Knowing how to talk with Finance Folks, People People, and Idea Lovers is key

14) Making space is not just for the workplace, but also sparks high joy and deep joy at home. 

  • High joy is an experience that makes you gasp; it comes from surprise, risk and exertion. 
  • Deep joy is an experience that reaches down into your body and warms you; it comes from friendship, gratitude, giving, and peace.

Resources cited:

Music by:

To listen to episode 35,  Create Space to Think (part 2), click here. If you prefer to read the transcript, go here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps.


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