A Joke is a very serious thing …

Sometimes in life you have to confess what you have been doing in the past. I have been guilty of being a “Quotes Collector over the years. (My best defense: So is David Allen of GTD fame!)

Also at a certain time in your life, you start mapping everything you see and experience into your own world. So I went through my collection, shortlisted 40 humorous quotes and mapped into the world of Knowledge Workers and their managers!

Don’t laugh at me. As Charles Churchill said in his writings “A joke’s a very serious thing”.

Here you go ….

1 – The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to our ability to reach it.
             — Jill Shalvis
There will be things you will not have control over in the organization. They’ll itch. Accept it!

2 – You may never learn to swear until you learn to drive.
            — Steven Wright
You never grow up as a professional unless you have lived through a bad project or a bad boss. 

3 – He is one of those people who would be enormously improved by death.
            — Saki
If you have “one of those”, get rid of them

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Long Walks

I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.
— Noel Coward

Sir Coward was known for his wit. But there is some germ of truth in every humor and this quote is no exception. It is always good to have some time and space to one self.

We tend to get more done when we have uninterrupted time to ourself. Good ideas come in lonely long walks. We solve problems in morning shower. We take a long drive on our favorite country road to clear our mind. Even, a brilliant idea or solution is there as we wake up after a good long sleep!

All this is true. We generally do our best when abetted by solitude and a conducive environment. But these observations do not have to sound as mythical as they do. They are actually grounded in the basic principles of productivity and time management.

There are two common attributes in all these scenarios – the long walks, the picturesque drives, the morning showers and the uninterrupted sleep – that help explain why they are effective for our productivity and creativity.

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Parkinson’s Law to our Advantage

The United States Congress averted a major tax hike and expenditure cut – the so-called “fiscal cliff” – by reaching a compromise deal just before the deadline of January 1, 2013. “Just before” practically was the start of January 1.

It was a tough milestone considering there was a divided Congress and political polarization on economic issues. However, the deadline was known for ever, practically built into the system and the backdoor negotiations for the compromise deal were in full swing for many weeks. Yet, the deal was reached at the eleventh hour – only when the hard deadline was at the door. Interestingly, there have been similar eleventh hour deals on fiscal deadlines over the last few years.

parkinsonThis is an example of Parkinson’s law in real life – famously known as Work Expands to Fill the Time Available. Everyone involved kept on negotiating and trying to get their way in the deal until they could do that no more. Usually, we expand the work required to achieve some goal based on how much time we have. We adjust our focus and plans accordingly. We define the complexity and scope of the task if we can based on how much time we have.

There are many other real-life examples. Cricket matches finish in the last over. Projects end at the last minute. All news in the world magically fits into the same 16 pages of a newspaper. Meetings consume all their allotted time. We reach office just in the nick of time. Deals are reached at the last minute. Storage requirements increase to fill the storage capacity. Our expenses adjust to fit our income.  Given any deadline or constraint, we carve an execution path in such a way that we finish right at the end. Not before, not after.

There are two very interesting corollaries for Parkinson’s Law.

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