Can Boring Be Productive?

Writing as an individual who accepts the mundane as normal, an article in the September 19 Smart Brief on Leadership   titled “Boring is Productive” caught my attention. The piece, written by Robert Pozen, lecturer at the Harvard Business School and author of the forthcoming book Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours, provides a viewpoint that less can be better when it comes to leadership styles.

Pozen supports his hypothesis based on his own personal experience and also from an interview done with President Obama. During this interview, the President spoke about what he does to “routinize the routines” in his daily life and thus reduce the the number of lower level decisions each day thus preserving time for more important functions. Mr. Obama has two simple routines which help someone who is as busy as president  as you are as a school leader.  First, he wears gray or blue suits only and has someone on his staff make decisions about what he will eat for meals, both simple decisions, but on es that he eliminates from his daily routine.  According to the President, “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing.” Posen likewise has a similar routine: he eats the same breakfast daily and only has two colors of suits to wear. He understands that his routine may be “boring” but leaders, including school administrators, make many decisions each day – decisions that are more important than what to eat or wear.

The point is that you as an school leader are able to decide what you don’t care about and that you should learn how to run those parts of your life “on autopilot.” Instead of wasting your mental energy on things that you consider unimportant, save it for those decisions, activities, and people that matter most to you.

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