On Focus / by AB Mann

Subtitle: Do The #$%!ing Work

I've been attempting to reduce distractions at work (and life) with the desire to be better focused on the things that I do well, that satisfy me, and that I'm best at. This is not simply reducing browsing to Facebook et al.(that is a discipline in which I could use more dots) as well as actively divesting myself of tasks or projects I don't need to be doing. Anything that doesn't meet the above standards is noise even if it is necessary.

Take, for example, design and development triage. All project designs and development my team creates needs to be assigned testers - ditto that of everything coming from outside applications. I do it every morning. I have been doing it every morning for the last 9 years. It's gotten to the point that my team is large enough and on the tail end of enough other stuff that I have been spending 4-7 hours on this every week. When my 1:1 meetings with my team start at 8:30 that generally means most of my open time was taken by these tasks. And if it's a particular busy development week, it can bleed into the afternoon.

That bleed could just murder my focus and productivity for a whole day. Despite that, I don't want to distract my team by giving it up. That's just me being a slacker, right? I own this, I have always owned this!

Well, my views have flipped since returning to work.

When I realized I was going to be out for a few weeks while dad was sick, I reassigned all the triage duties. And while it took six people (yeah, seriously: six) to efficiently divide it, they all did just fine with it. And a few of them enjoyed it. And a few of them were really good at it.

As managers, we tend to be the sort of people that like responsibility. We like being "The Person". The one who owns the thing. We value that expertise in ourselves and in others.

If it is true that we value ownership in our teams, how does it follow that me continuing to own a thing is valuable? Sure, I can do the thing well but couldn't some one (or six some ones) learn to do that too?

Owning a task that no longer enriches your career, that distracts yo from the core functions of your role, that doesn't challenge you is an act of Pride. It no longer serves you but you're not allowing it to serve someone else.

So let it go. Not only do I get that time back but now my team is more engaged in and aware of outside development projects and as more in tune with team workload.

In so thinking, I made the below art to serve as reminder. There are my lock screen and general background on my phone now.

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