I thought that it would be interesting to point out the parts of The Executive and the Elephant that sounded most promising, commit to trying them out, and document my results.
First, I’ve tried to-do lists already and they have been how I overcome procrastination for more than 20 years. The trick is to break down tasks small enough to not be intimidating or vague. They need to be something that you can imagine doing. Hand-written lists work best for me and I was surprised to read that this is true of many others as well. Write it down (by hand) and you stand a good chance of actually doing it.
Visualization is another good idea that I am already familiar with and use frequently. I rehearse any situation that stresses me out in every scenario that I can think of. It is another staple of my daily routine that makes me paranoid and strangely quiet for long periods of time at home–not one of my wife’s favorites.
A new and promising idea that I had not heard before is to imagine that, at the beginning of a conversation, a person has a full glass of tea in their hand. You need to let them empty it before you try to pour in some more. Otherwise, your tea will just end up overflowing onto their lap and shoes. Let them speak and do not interrupt them. I am going to us this imagery to become a more thoughtful listener.
I am also going to tell several colleagues that I am going to give them RM10 every time I interrupt them. I’d better remember to get a wad of RM10 bills!
Another great idea is to focus on someone’s left eye and make sure you know what color it is. Supposedly this is a proven technique used by actors to stay focused when rehearsing lines over and over. I am intrigued and will give it a try. If it makes me a better listener then hey, whatever works!
There are some meditation techniques to sharpen concentration. They should help me work faster under pressure and remember little details like reading what I just wrote before distributing it.
The book is far more interesting and convincing than the above few notes. If you read it then my notes will sound more reasonable. At any rate, I will post again sometime soon with some results.