Management Articles


What Ideal Team Work Looks Like: Decluttered

By: Susan Dunn

Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, coaches individuals and executives in emotional intelligence, and offers workshops, presentations, trainings, Internet courses and ebooks.  She is a regular presenter for the Royal Caribbean and Costa cruiselines.  Visit her on the web at and for FREE ezine.

I got a new website designed, up and running last week. Yes, last week. And it was no cookie-cutter either. I’m well-organized, but the speed with which Nancy, the web designer, worked was amazing.

No sooner did I send her something, than it was up on the website. Actually she was simultaneously working on two websites for me. Things were flying back and forth.

Drag Creates Drag

I was reminded of something my friend told me when I was working on my dissertation. He said do what the chair asks immediately, get it back as fast as you can. “It baffles them,” he said. “Most students prolong it indefinitely. When someone’s working fast, then they don’t have time to obsess. It’s catching, you know?”

That was good advice! Taking forever to do something creates a force field with a lot of drag in it.

Back to Nancy. Well, she’s a friend, too, and I became concerned. Didn’t she have any other business? Eventually I had to ask, “Do you not have any business, Nancy?”

“Yes,” she emailed back. “I’m swamped.”

Small wonder when she’s so professional, speedy, accurate … but she’s also creative.

Okay, I thought, I’m going to ask. Nancy, how do you do it?

“Thanks for asking,” she wrote and then sent me this list. At the top it said, “I’m glad you asked why I have so much time. I try to teach this to others [she’s also a coach].

I Have So Much Time Because
  • I’m in good health; therefore I’m very active and need little sleep.
  • I eat to live rather than living to eat, so my meals are simple and I don’t consume a lot of time shopping or grazing during the day
  • I am well-organized
  • I can focus and concentrate like you wouldn’t believe; there are no distractions in my world
  • There is no clutter in my life and there are no so-called obligatory functions
  • There are no draining people in my life
  • I don’t own a tv and do not waste any time in passive activities
  • As an introvert, I conserve energy by being with people as little as possible and only the nice ones or loved ones when I do choose to interact socially
  • I have constant variety in my life so when I am innervated by one project, I switch to another and my energy returns
  • I love my work—all of it, house, garden, daughter, friends, counseling, web design, teaching, walking my dog; the idea of “work” has been well integrated in to my daily life, like a monk
  • I am a high energy person (that is a great gift from God)
  • I don’t smoke, drink, eat white sugar or white flour
  • I play hard when I play
“And you can quote me!” she added. “I’m glad you asked.” What a great sense of personal power we get when we’re doing something well that we love to do.

Nancy continued, “The way I’ve worked on your website is my typical way of interacting with web design clients and a typical response time. I really set the pace when I do a website with someone and am terrific at wrapping it up, too. Some people have trouble completing things in life or they bottom out in the middle when it gets hard. In me, they have a steady pace setter who has the will to complete the project and the know-how, expertise and experience.”

Getting things completed ... one of my mentors used to say, “The pregnancy is wonderful, if only the baby didn’t have to be born.”

Nancy continued, “While doing this, I have supervised the remodeling of the house, got H&M off on the cruise, fixed dinner for my roommate and visited with her, and done many coaching sessions.

“I give my friends and clients the impression that I am serene and unruffled (or so they say) but you wouldn’t BELIEVE what I accomplish in a day. I recommend good mental and physical health habits and the elimination of toxic people and television.”

My Work is Majestic

The most amazing thing about this experience with Nancy was her passion. She emailed me at one point: “A website is a majestic thing and deserves the full attention of someone who knows how important it is to get your message across.”

One of the things she’s best at is ‘getting’ who you are and putting it into the web site. I think this is because of the focus. She’s into the other person and the project, not self-concerns.

Blaming & Shaming

In this team project, there were changes in direction, call them snafus. The name I’d chosen was being use so the logo had to be changed. “Great!” Nancy emailed. “How about this?” The photos she originally chose turned out to be too expensive. “How about these?” she replied, sending 3 new ones.

I’ve worked on many teams, and the biggest time-waster and energy-drag is those disgruntled sighs, rolling of eyes, throwing hands up in the air, labeling things as “mistakes” and assigning fault. Comments such as Why didn’t you tell me beforehand ... There was a miscommunication…You said you wanted ... If you’d said that in the first place ... Subtle or blatant, they accomplish nothing and exhaust us.

Change it, fix it, keep it flowing, was our motto. We didn’t waste time analyzing, blaming, naming, shaming.

Are you overwhelmed? Many of my coaching clients and friends are. You can take some tips from Nancy, on how to declutter, and here’s one from me—when you surround yourself with people like this, life sure goes a lot easier! Declutter your project team!

My website? I wish we could still be working on it. How often do you say that when you’ve finished working on a project with someone? How often can you say “It was a pleasure working with you” and mean it?

© copyright, Susan Dunn, 2003

Other Articles by Susan Dunn

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