New Year. New MSP. Clarity Break Questions to Pave Your Way Forward

The holidays have come and gone. As you enter the new year, how are you approaching 2022? Some enter the new year feeling refreshed and ready to set new goals. Others enter the new year feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Regardless of your perspective, there is one essential tool taught in EOS that will deeply impact how you lead your team, work with your MSP (Managed Service Provider), and support the technology needs of the entire organization: Clarity Breaks.

If you lead, manage, and hold accountable (in EOS language: LMA) your MSP, clarity breaks are essential to breaking through the head fog.

What is a Clarity Break?

Taking a clarity break can allow for the space and opportunity to prioritize and break away from the chaos to think clearly. Clarity breaks are dedicated appointments with yourself for distraction-free time to cleanse the thoughts and ideas that accumulate over time. During this time, you should focus on your ideas, thoughts, concerns, strategic questions, and the challenges you currently face.

MSPs and IT professionals alike are typically responsible for everything including phone system management, ordering new equipment, troubleshooting support issues, and combating cyber-attacks. If it sounds like each of these responsibilities should be its own position, you are right. Thanks to how quickly technology has evolved and intertwined its way into every orifice within an organization, IT professionals are often burdened with more responsibilities than time allows to manage. This can cause for an overwhelming to-do list. But if you are working with an MSP, some of what you do could be offloaded.

Why are Clarity Breaks important?

Clarity breaks are especially important when working with an MSP. A great MSP will serve as an extension to your team, helping you with tasks and projects. If you aren’t fully utilizing your MSP, a clarity break may help reveal areas you could delegate.

Take the time to think through your daily tasks, projects, and concerns that are consuming your thoughts. Think through what activities you are qualified to do, want to do, and have the capacity to do. Then think through the activities your MSP is responsible for. Are you delegating the right responsibilities to your MSP? What areas could you further delegate to them to allow you to focus on your core skillset?

There may be items that you can take back to your MSP to delegate to. You may even uncover items your MSP is managing that you need updated on. There may be areas your MSP is falling behind or could be working faster than you can keep up. Maybe there is unsaid tension and areas that you need to discuss with your MSP to have a better working relationship.

Productivity is directly impacted by the level of clarity we have on a certain topic. When we are faced with uncertainty, it is common to push it to the backburner. Clarity breaks can help hold yourself accountable for pushing through the fog.

How to take a Clarity Break?

There is no set standard for the number of clarity breaks you take. It can be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. They can be 30-minutes, 60-minutes, or even hours. The frequency and duration are completely up to you – just be consistent and do not skip out on them.

There is a one stipulation though. No technology. As an IT manager, this might be unnatural for you – but trust us. Schedule your clarity breaks away from your phone, computer, music, and TV. Some people isolate themselves at a local coffee shop with a notepad and pen. Others head out to a local park. The goal is to have your clarity break in a distraction-free area that allows you to clear your mind.

Schedule your clarity break – mark it on your calendar and let your team know you will be out.
Disconnect – set your phone on airplane mode and leave your laptop behind.
Bring your notebook and pen – no digital notetaking!
Step away from the office – take a walk, go outside, go to a coffee shop…just do not do this at your desk.

What should come out of a clarity break?

Once you have established the place and time for your clarity break, start writing. It may feel overwhelming at first (a bit like writer’s block), but just start writing down everything that comes to your mind. It may be tied to your home life, family, friends, personal concerns, obstacles, etc. It may be tied to work concerns, areas you feel overwhelmed, goals you have, outstanding to-do’s that linger in the back of your mind – regardless, write it all down.

When your clarity break is done, you should have a list of items that you will need to work through and address. This is commonly known as “head-trash,” or all the things that clutter your mind. This list can help you prioritize items and even reveal opportunities for delegation. In some cases, you might discover issues to bring back to your team to discuss in your next L10 meeting. Clarity breaks are not intended to solve your issues, they are to get them out on paper.

If there is one thing that is true about working in the IT industry, it is that there is a never-ending list of to-dos. EOS helps provide structure and transparency to how your organization and team operate. Clarity breaks are just one of many tools that leaders can use. But it can be overwhelming getting started. As one of our managers said:

“Clarity breaks allow me to take time to get all the “noise” in my head down on paper. I use clarity breaks to identify all concerns, questions, places of frustration in both my professional and personal life. This has led to much greater collaboration and clarity with people I work with and with my family and friends as well. Many times, the action is simply ‘I need to tell someone something.’ If you do not take proactive and diligent steps to eliminate frustrations and the “noise in your head” it will appear to be a much bigger monster than it really is. Most issues are not that difficult to solve but you must first identify them in detail. Clarity breaks help with this.”

To help you get started with your clarity breaks, we supplied you with some questions to ask yourself. Download them here.

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You can learn more about EOS in our blog post, Right MSP, Right Seat. Applying EOS to Your Relationship with your MSP. If you want to work with a MSP that works within the EOS model contact us.

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