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Just walk away…

September 13, 2011

Life these days seems to move at warp speed.  We juggle competing priorities, doing our best to identify the truly urgent versus the in-your-face priorities.  We need to accomplish more with fewer resources, and we need to do it faster than ever.  It’s frighteningly easy to succumb and operate in a reactive, rather than proactive manner.  The lure of just getting it done and crossed off the list is the busy person’s catnip.  I would argue that one of the most valuable actions you can take in this environment is to just walk away. 

Take 60 seconds away from the email you just wrote and come back to it with a fresh perspective.  Are you conveying what you intended?  Did you run spell check? If email is the only interaction the recipient has with you, how are you presenting yourself?

A five minute break between receiving a frustrating email or call and responding can result in a completely different outcome – you’ll be able to think through your options more clearly and choose a response geared towards achieving a specific resolution rather than reacting and escalating the situation. 

For that project you just can’t get to work right, whether it’s balancing a checkbook, writing a proposal or planning the week’s meals – walking away and focusing on something unrelated (get a status update on a different project, go workout, have lunch and feed your brain!) allows you to get your brain working along a different path.  When you return to the project, you’ll have a clear mind and be ready to tackle the problem from a different direction.  And that can lead to both a successful outcome and less time required to achieve it.

And once that project is ready to release, stop and walk away.  Take a few minutes, and evaluate what’s being delivered.  Does it address the original request fully?  Does it answer the questions that can reasonably be expected to arise (did you ask the “next question” – and did you answer it?)?  Is this something you want your name and reputation attached to?

So regardless of whether it’s literally or figuratively  – just walk away… but don’t forget to come back!

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