I’ve been checking out online business “magazines,” blogs, and other management-related websites lately. And here’s what I’ve noticed:
There sure are a lot of lists out there.
Here’s some examples of what I’m talking about:
- “9 Ways to Make Sure You Run Effective Meetings (Infographic)”
- “7 Ways Great Leaders Think Differently From Everyone Else”
- “15 Body Language Secrets of Successful People”
- “5 Brilliant Cost Effective Influencer Marketing Strategies”
- “7 Reasons the Best Employees Quit, Even When They Like Their Job”
- “9 Reasons Your Best Employees Will Stay, Even When They Don’t Like Their Jobs
So when it comes managing and/or leading, business writers seem have a preference communicating their ideas in “list-format,” for whatever the reason. Like a list of things to do.
Or not do.
Now there’s obviously nothing wrong with lists per se.
But this seeming obsession with list-making does strike me as odd. When I was in graduate school studying chemistry, for instance, I don’t ever recall having to memorize the “5 Ways to Make Sure You Run Effective Experiments.” Or the “15 Body Language Secrets of Successful Organic Chemists” – or “5 Brilliant Cost Effective Proton-Decoupled NMR Strategies.” For managers, business leaders, and career-oriented management professionals, however, lists seem to be all the rage.
Unfortunately, they’re rarely very helpful in my experience. Consider the following:
- On that infographic explaining “9 Ways to Make Sure You Run More Effective Meetings,” tip #2 reads “Assign a meeting leader.” Well, isn’t that leader you, given you’re the one trying to run more effective meetings?
It goes on to to say: “Choose someone who is both trusted and respected by the team.” But again, shouldn’t that by you, since you’re presumably the one attempting to run it? If it’s not—that is, if you’re not trusted and respected by your own employees—I’d wager that ineffective meetings are probably the least of your worries…
- As for the “7 Ways Great Leaders Think Differently From [sic?] Everyone Else,” the post’s author assures readers up front that “successful thinking is something you can learn.” (Which is great – otherwise why bother reading further?) However, when it comes to tip #3—“Explore Big Picture Thinking”—she also argues for being “ready to see things that other people cannot see” so you “can connect dots like no one else.” But how do you become ready to see what no one else can? I’d love a bit more detail on that one – especially since once she’s explained it, everyone else will also be able to see those things too, making you incapable of seeing what others can’t. Right..?
- When it comes to the “15 Body Language Secrets of Successful People,” isn’t this putting the carriage before the horse, so to speak? Sure, if I avoid “crossed arms” on my part (tip#5), or stop “fidgeting” (tip#8), I might get that promotion, or be seen as a more productive/competent employee. But if I achieve some measure of success first—by developing a great product, or becoming an outstanding manager, for instance—won’t that be reflected in my body language…?
- As for “5 Brilliant Cost Effective Influencer Marketing Strategies,” just how many “marketing strategies” are there in total, if there’s five “brilliant, cost effective” ones alone for “influencers”? Furthermore, what are the “brilliant” but not necessarily “cost effective” strategies (just in case I have a budget surplus to use up before the end of the fiscal quarter)? And just out of curiosity, what are the ones that are “cost effective,” but actually kind of stupid..?
- As for “7 Reasons the Best Employees Quit, Even When They Like Their Job” and “9 Reasons Your Best Employees Will Stay, Even When They Don’t Like Their Jobs”?
Actually, I don’t even know where to begin with that…
Oh yes – I almost forgot to mention all those lists I’ve come across that have to do with “time management.”
Truly, if there’s one topic that these business list-makers seem to gravitate towards, it’s how to make the most of your time. For instance:
- “5 Simple Ways to Add 2 Hours More to Your Day”
- “7 Ways to Knock an Hour Off Your Work Day”
- “8 Secrets Smart People Know About Time Management”
- “9 Ways to Save More Time”
- “How to Manage Time with 10 Tips That Work”
- “15 Ways to Keep Your Brain Sharp During an Insanely Long Work Day”
- “Work Smarter, Not Harder: 21 Time Management Tips to Hack Productivity”
- “65 Ways to Sharpen Your Time Management Skills”
By my count, that’s 130 suggestions just from these eight articles alone. (Better set aside some time to take it all in.)
Which brings me to my own “time management” advice:
For ****-sake, don’t waste your time reading all of these lists.
See you next week.
 Respectively: http://fortune.com/2016/03/05/productivity-time-management-tips/; https://www.fastcompany.com/3029712/7-ways-to-knock-an-hour-off-your-work-day; http://www.forbes.com/sites/annlatham/2015/11/08/8-secrets-smart-people-know-about-time-management/#11951a38279a; http://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/9-ways-to-save-more-time.html; https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/219553; http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/ss/how-to-keep-your-brain-sharp-during-an-insanely-long-work-day.html?cid=sf01001&sr_share=twitter; http://www.creativitypost.com/create/work_smarter_not_harder_21_time_management_tips_to_hack_productivity; http://www.inc.com/lolly-daskal/65-of-the-best-time-management-tips-that-will-work-for-you.html. All retrieved Oct. 20, 2016.