10 Things That Might Be Killing Your Career

Do you ever wonder where the day went? Do you ever look back at a month and struggle to think of anything substantial you accomplished? What ever happened to that big idea you had? Whatever happened to your dreams? Are you doing whatís important, or are you just doing? Here are ten things that might be killing your day, your monthÖmaybe even your career.

    Meetings are a necessary evilÖor are they? How many meetings can you eliminate every week? How many are absolutely necessary? What could you be doing if you werenít in a meeting? Is a meeting a valuable and productive type of work? Or is it just another interruption?

    Talk to most project managers, especially the PMPs of the world (no offense), and theyíll tell you all about the project plan. They update the plan and they report on the plan (in another meeting) and they make pretty gantt and waterfall charts with the plan. Is a project plan important? Sure it is, but only to know who is going to do what by when. Seth Godin said thereís a big difference between running and managing a project. Please run.

    Early in my career, I was assigned a documentation project for a client. It involved documenting business processes as they related to their software system. It was a fabulous document. It had screenshots and how-toís and departmental considerations. It was hundreds of (digital) pages long and it was expensive. And nobody ever used it. Just like they never used the documentation that came with their iPod or camera or mobile phone. Just like they never used the instructions that came with their lawnmower or grill or printer. Documentation is that set of binders and books in your office that you never look at. Donít let the lack of it stop you from shipping.

    Emails are micro-meetings. Theyíre another interruption that kills your productivity. Some emails are important. Some emails are urgent. Few are both.

    Twitter is awesome. I love Twitter. I love checking my lists and seeing my replies. I love joining in on conversations about topics Iím passionate about. I love the relationships Iíve been able to forge because of it. But none of that makes Twitter a path to my dreams. Twitter is a firehose of interruptions. Itís a constant stream of gobbly-gook that I constantly have to filter. Constantly. Donít worry, I still love you Twitter, but I may need a bigger filter.

    Iíve mentioned my RSS habits before. I fully understand how distracting a page full of unread articles can be. Feedly (and Zite and Flipboard and Circa and Pulse) tempts me with its unread count on a daily basis. My advice is to use that Mark All As Read button more often. Itís kinda scary, but you feel good after you do it.

    I once asked an employee what he had worked on the previous week. His answer was, ďMarket research.Ē I no longer have to ask that employee any questionsÖif you get my drift.

    Itís Facebook, need I say more?

    Nobody ever got knocked for sharpening the saw. A well-organized conference can be a valuable networking and learning experience, but they should be attended in moderation. Hopping on a plane and spending thousands of dollars (whether itís yours or the companyís is beside the point) to attend a conference every month is ridiculous, especially since most of the good stuff is published online now.

    This kind of goes with the topic above. A certification can be very worthwhile and beneficial to your career, but donít get carried away. You donít need to be a CPA to understand financial statements, you donít need a PMP to manage a project, and you donít need to be a Six Sigma black belt to help someone successfully manage a business. All of those might help you at some point in your career, but what else could you be doing with all of those hours?

This post is as much for me (maybe more) as it is for you. Below is one video that inspired this post and deserves watching.