Forced creativity is a powerful tool.

The absolute sheer pressure of a pandemic, where the playgrounds are wrapped in police tape here in my little town, the churches are closed, the dying die alone, it is almost unimaginable, but here we are.  Totally reality.

Funny really, how it took THIS for many of us believers, to say, woah, I guess GOD IS IN CHARGE!

Here are a few things I learned both personally and professionally.  And it’s more than I’ve learned in quite some time.

As T.S. Eliot said:



FLOW.  You operations people and production people understand it, because we have worked on it.  It doesn’t mean it can’t be better (it can) but it means you get it.  Maximize your time, stay focused and the magic will happen.  You know some hours, minutes, seconds, where you just “get shit done” and it feels “right” that’s flow.

An interruption as simple as looking at an e-mail, your mind shifts to a new task, then you have to re-engage on your main task.  NO FLOW.  Critical minutes lost every time you do that.  Some research says 7 minutes it takes your brain to shift to a new task!  Wow!

Drexel’s inside team and sales team, we basically DISCOURAGED FLOW.   We called Campbellsport, the zoo.  Controlled chaos.  The finance team’s life IS being distracted.  A phone call, a sales touch, everybody stops to say hi (which IS NEEDED, THAT’S CONNECTION), an e-mail, another task that has to happen RIGHT NOW.

We can’t do that anymore.  We have to let people get in the flow.  Here’s a really long, but badass article on it.

That doesn’t mean our customer service goes down, it means IT GOES UP.   More people in flow, better work being done with more engaged and happier team members!  Clients will love it.


A team member (I won’t name) emailed me something Friday.  I was saddened by it honestly.   Over a decade, a career of no flow in their job, and well, to be honest, they like it that way.  They either fear the change or can’t see the other side.   This person tells by 6am the phone and emails are coming in, and then with appointments, more emails, and much much more, they just can’t simply do what they were hired to do (their core task).  See, that person has to realize we have to simply REDUCE, REPURPOSE OR ELIMINATE A BUNCH  of that NON-ESSENTIAL…. without reducing or hopefully enhancing the connections with her team and his contractors!

Here is how I am going to coach her on Monday:

  1. CHECK EMAIL TWICE A DAY.   It’s an email, which means it is NOT A 911.   A 911 will come in as face to face or phone call.  It’s an addiction.  Good luck!

Consider using my away message that I have personally set up:


Thank you for the e-mail.

In an effort to be most effective, I am currently checking and responding to e-mail three times daily at 7:35am, 10:55am, and 4:35pm.

If you require urgent assistance (please ensure it is urgent) that cannot wait until then please contact me via phone or text at 920-979-4045.

Thank you for understanding this move to more efficiency and effectiveness.

It helps me accomplish more to serve you better.

Thank you for understanding,


(I learned that from Tim Ferris and his book “The 4 Hour Work Week.”)


2.  Do not fire off rapid emails.  Also, close the loop on emails.   What do I mean by that?

The more emails YOU SEND the more OTHERS will lose THEIR FLOW.  Also all those emails you send off… they are all going to just boomerang back to you.  Send emails only when they are effective and essential (there are those words again).

I personally, will try to limit my emails to my team to ONE A DAY.  ONE EFFECTIVE ONE.

If I send a team blue email, and it just takes 3 minutes for someone to open, read and digest BEFORE THEY CAN GET BACK IN THE FLOW … that is over 1350 minutes!   


Consider not responding if it doesn’t require a response or even putting on your email NRR  (NO RESPONSE REQUIRED).

Also, close the LOOP.    You if/then statements.  Here’s an example.   Please let me know if 3pm works for you, if not I am available Monday at 8 or Friday at 10, if that doesn’t’ work then please propose a time that does works for you.   Or, I plan on having this done by Tuesday at 4pm, if that doesn’t work for you, then let me know what does.  Instead of, what works for you?  Leaving a long email thread coming.

Lastly, please SCHEDULE (google has a nice function on that) WHEN you want your emails to send.  Why send one when you are trying to get in the flow, knowing response will boomerang back in 5 minutes.   Schedule the send when you WANT responses to come back.

Understanding and owning your time is NOT a dis-service to the customer.  The client wants you to do your job well and fast.  So do your teammates.  Don’t let them hijack your time.

THINK!  Think different.  This person perhaps needs to find someone at work to do the tasky things. Perhaps a part-timer even.   Maybe work when we are not open.

Or really rethink it.  I use stitch fix.  Quarterly, this service sends me clothes.  I tell them what I am looking for via something similar to a google survey.   It loads up all my needs for them, leaving me time to not shop and they don’t have to be open at all to get that done.  If we send people the right information, via questions, the first time, we should reduce LONG appts to brief introductions (connection) or no face to face at all.  I am sure some of you are following this, and some of you are not, and that is ok. I love it and I do a feel a connection, they check in on my occasionally!  🙂

This person for years has chased the busyness of the job and actually has made it worse, not better for him and her team.


If you are still reading this, I do want to thank those working on the front lines.   It’s scary out there.  And you are doing it every day at work.

Please if you have the slightest COUGH OR FEVER OR SYMPTOM, JUST STAY HOME.  PLEASE.  PLEASE.







This won’t be over today, tomorrow, or by the end of the week!  Buckle down and let’s get creative but effective.  (That word again.)





One thought on “THESE ARE THE TIMES

  1. Control what you CAN control! Don’t let the uncontrollable, chaotic situations control you! A famous hockey coach sat me down when everything seemed to be going backwards and taught me a lesson around those words. Since that time, I have used those words to teach others along with lived by them. Often control involves educating and teaching what you expect. You can not expect someone to understand your situation, nor can you have control if you are not willing to teach lessons. The example you used was great! That lifestyle did not happen overnight. It took years of making themselves more and more available, jumping at every request, and not pushing back when it was needed. This event is the best thing that could have happened to them! Yes, they are going to get frustrated as they reprogram themselves and their clients but what they are going to find is their projects will move smoothly through the pipeline, they will have more time to build better, meaningful relationships with their clients, and that their personal life will improve. Trust me, I was there! I can’t wait to see how people change through better time management and they they will actually become more productive!

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