Here’s a problem I have that drives me crazy. Maybe you have it too. Better yet, maybe you had it, solved it and can tell me what worked for you. What do you do when you’ve finished your to dos? That is, what do you do when all your phone messages are returned, your projects are up-to-date, your deadlines have been met, and even the pesky errands you’ve been avoiding (filling out time sheets, computing tax forms, checking blog analytics) are finished?
Believe me, this question is a lot harder to answer than you might think. I’ve asked lots of people whose opinions I respect – clients, friends, family – and I’ve gotten a lot of answers but not a lot of satisfying ones.
Here are some of the better suggestions I’ve heard:
Seth Werner, managing principal of The Davis Companies, said to “walk around.” His point was that free time is the perfect time to check in on co-workers to see how they’re doing and what they might need help with. After all, just because I’m done with my to do list doesn’t mean that others in my office are done with theirs.
Bob Berkowitz, founder of Multivision, suggested I go home or go do something fun. He stressed that inspiration is more important than hours invested and so the best thing to do is recharge your batteries and get fired up for the next challenge.
Steve Demar, partner with Kaufmann Rosin, checks on the people who report to him. Jason Kates, CEO of rVue, calls clients. Tom Cowan, founder of Vecker, reflects on his goals and his plans for achieving them. Jeff Palmer asks “what question needs to be answered right now?” Banu Dadlani meditates.
I’ve been told to work on pro-bono projects, review company fundamentals, even to write new blog posts. My dad told me that the answer always changes but that I “always know what needs to be done.”
Most everyone else I’ve asked just doesn’t seem to understand my question or at least they don’t see why it vexes me so much. Some laugh that their to do lists are so long that they’d just be happy to have my problem. Some can’t imagine why I want more to do.
Call clients? Practice harmonica? Start a new book? Make more cold calls? Visit with my co-workers? Come up with unsolicited ideas for our customers? Clean my desk? Practice my latest speech? Go for a run? Learn a new web skill? Tweet? Blog? Take a class? Take a hike? Take a nap?
Maybe you’ve dealt with this and have a solution. Or maybe this is the first you’ve thought of it but you’ve got a good suggestion. Either way I’d truly appreciate your input. As a thank you I’ll send a copy of my latest book, “Building Brand Value” to the person who sends the idea (or ideas) that I incorporate into my daily routine. I’ll also post the best suggestions in a future blog so everyone can benefit from this experiment in crowdsourcing.