There Must be a Better Way
Some days it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
People are loading it on us from all directions, and like so many high-contribution leaders, we’re often loading “it” on ourselves.
“It,” a catchword of crowded to-do’s, the daily grind, and demand for attention. “It,” the stuff of expectations and other people’s agendas and behaviors. A multitude of variations – external and internal – but one thing is for sure, “it” doesn’t much let up.
Through those overwhelming periods, some of us put our heads down and plow through (with high stress,) more or less randomly getting those things done that we can, in spite of all the other “stuff.
Others of us bog down (with high stress,) and can’t really seem to gain any traction throughout the day, beyond a few basics. We somehow get by under the radar.
So, there we have it. Do you bog or a plow? Would you welcome another alternative?
Let me offer two practical things to take action on, that I’ve learned will help.
1. Determine your priority
2. Stay focused on that priority
I’m not saying they are the only things to give you some relief, but these two actions will make a world of difference – IF payed attention to.
Determine the Priority
It’s easy to say of our to-do list, “they’re all priorities.” But in terms of getting something done, they can’t be. You can’t work on all things at one time. One thing is the priority. One thing is the starting point. That one thing “takes priority” over all the other good, but for right now, secondary things.
I remember reading somewhere, that when it comes to what to do next, you actually can’t have priorities, plural. You can only have a priority, singular. That one thing will make the biggest difference moving forward. I’ve benefited from that insight.
Choose one thing – the most important thing. Hopefully choose it ahead of time, so that when it comes time to execute, you’re ready to go. Then focus on it.
Focus on the Priority
None of us are naïve to how a day can go. But the degree to which we can stay focused on that one thing that will make the biggest difference, that’s the degree to which we will make meaningful progress throughout the day.
Guard your high-focus time for “the priority.” Make EVERY effort to keep working on your project or priority until it is finished. Of course, you may need to get input from others or wait for something that impacts completion. That needs to be taken into account … but ONLY settle for completion as your primary intention.
Once you have reached completion on THAT priority, then you can go on to the next. And a chain of priorities completed, spells success.
Like you, I can come up with all sorts of reasons that this will be difficult. No one says it’s easy. It may take revising your own standards, or establishing some clear boundaries, or negotiating some new ways of working … but the adjustment will be worth it.
Those who make significant contribution, pay attention to choosing their one priority. They move it as far as they can toward completion every time they touch it. And as far as they possibly can, they don’t lose focus until they can check it off as “completed.”
Maybe there’s an alternative to bogger or plower, that goes some distance to being less stressful. A focused achiever perhaps?
[Your name] – Focused Achiever. It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
Let’s reach for that, for the next while. Let’s turn establishing priority and focusing on priority, into habit. The benefits will be obvious pretty quickly.