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GIDDS: Get it done days

Hey kids, do GIDDS!

TL:DR — download this lightweight framework for team deep work

If you’re anything like me you spend a noticeable amount of time on busywork?

Busy work for me is the stuff that I do day in day out that keep the cogs turning. Emails, phone calls, chasing up, internal meetings, managing budgets, etc, etc, etc.

As much as they need to be done, they don’t really add customer value.

Of course, the cogs need to turn but like any looked after machine, these cogs need oil.

Oil lubricates, protects, helps, lengthens life.

A well-oiled machine delivers better outcomes for longer.

In this slightly odd analogy, oil is the creative work we do that adds value either to us or our customers.

For example, as a former Youth Worker, the ‘oil’ was working with kids to support them in redirecting their energies towards something positive.

The cogs were paperwork, update meetings and so on. Again, important but not valuable to the customer, in this case, the child.

It’s easy to be boxed in by busywork.

A consequence of doing stuff is that it generates more stuff.

A sent email gets a response that gets a response. A meeting generates actions that need to be done and so on.

I’m a big fan of Cal Newport’s book Deep Work.

As an individual, I’m on a bit of a personal journey toward a simpler life with less distraction and stuff.

But it isn’t easy.

When I try to do deep work, I follow the rules, I turn things off, I remove distractions and then… Well, I quite often stare at the wall, scribble and procrastinate waiting for inspiration. I can often find myself actively looking for a distraction.

So if deep work is a concept that's straightforward but tricky to do. Imagine this on scale.

Quite often, we’re working in teams and there is a need to be collaborative in order to deliver the value, the outcomes we aspire to.

But knowing that busy work affects us … My busy work might be different to your busy work in either volume, urgency or time. When this happens work becomes drawn out. We avoid the value-creating work until ultimately the deadline appears over the horizon, we panic and stress and although we might do a decent job, it’s not an enjoyable experience.

This recently happened to a team that I was working in. We were feeling spread thinly through busy work and finding it hard to focus on the creative work that needed to happen so that we developed what the client needed.

Acknowledging this, we committed to a GIDDS.

In course of the day, we were able to focus on the work needed, task up and get it done. We were more collaborative, less stressed and got to the outcome that we needed faster.

So, knowing that busy work has a place and of course, needs to be done. How can we intentionally, proactively carve time to find more joy in our work so that we unlock our potential to be the creative problem-solvers we are and deliver great outcomes in less time, with less stress?

I suggest GIDDS!

Get it done days are simple really.

The day is 7 hours. In that time you take 1.5hrs for breaks. Leaving 5.5hrs of focused work. It might not sound like much but when you think about scale, the number of people involved in the day, you’ll be amazed at what can be achieved. Think about it. 7 people, with 5.5hrs of focused time = 35hrs. That’s almost a working week of pure focus. When was the last time that happened?

The day breaks down like this.

  • 10 mins for what and why
  • 15 mins for how and who
  • Then you work. Maybe individually, in pairs or as a whole group — whatever.
  • Midway through the day, you check in for 15 mins to peer review work in pairs.
  • Then carry on.
  • Then as you near the end of the day, you take 15 mins to review the work and agree now what before holding a short retrospective to discuss something like ‘if we did this GIDDS again, how might we improve’.

Sounds simple right? That’s because it is. The tricky bit is the execution.

Avoiding distraction. Avoiding navel-gazing. These things are hard. The benefit of a GIDDS is that you are able to execute the concept of Deep Work in a way that is structured and supported by your team. You’re all aligned, in agreement and committed.

Again, just think about what might be made possible if you had 35hrs in a day and the support around you to make it happen.

What? Sounds good but you’re too busy to commit to a whole day? OK, I’m trying to be helpful here so excuse the bluntness. You’re not that important. Honestly, if you didn’t answer an email or declined a meeting, what is the worst that might happen? Really? Nothing much! It’s not that you’re too busy or too important. It’s that you have set and shared the wrong type of boundaries. Honestly — no one will miss you for a day. And if they ask where you’re been. Tell them. I guarantee that they’d be jealous. It’s OK.

What? It’s not reasonable or practical to have the whole team out of action for a whole day? Are they ‘are they out of action’? Are you seriously paying them to be reactive emailers or passive bodies in a meeting? No, of course not. You’re paying them to add value. This approach will save a huge amount of time, energy and yes — money. The trade-off is simple, 1 day. 1 day to deliver something of value that might normally be dragged out over weeks if not months. Costs more time, energy and yes — money.

I have developed a lightweight flow for you. As a team, you can follow this flow as closely or as loosely as you see fit. Adapt it, make it yours. Let me know if you use it, how it went.

Remember, Good enough is good enough. The aim is to get something done in the day, something that you can share, release, implement. As my mother would say — ‘don’t have eyes bigger than your belly.’ so yeah, be brave but know what you can handle in the time you have. In many, messier cases you might need to do a 2 day or even 5-day sprint, I call these impact sprints (like design sprints but better).

That’s it.

Get in, get it done, go home.

let me know how it goes.

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We think building genuine connections that bind us together, and doing it in a way that doesn’t damage our health or our environment, is the key to unlocking change.

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Matt Barnaby

Matt Barnaby

A person who likes to do great things with great people so that together, we can make a bit of a difference to the world

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