Are you doing what’s necessary instead of what’s nice?
Here is a simple exercise:
Take a piece of paper and write the down the top three things that make you most valuable in your job. What are the things that only you can do? What are the things that make the most impact? If you spoke to your direct manager, what would be the things they would say that they want you to be spending your time on?
Now of those three, highlight the most important one.
Take an audit of your week. How much time do you actually spend doing that most important, highlighted thing? In percentage terms, how much of your week is devoted to doing the thing that makes the biggest impact?
If you’re like most people I work with, there is a terrible disconnect between the thing that you say is most important and the thing/s that you spend the most time on. You might say that the most important thing that you do is developing your staff or maybe strategic thinking. You might spend all your time doing administration activities or putting out fires for clients.
Either way, here are some things you can do to get on track.
- Find out what’s getting in your way
First things first. What is it that you’re spending all of your time on? Do a time audit for two weeks and find out where your time’s going. If you’re not doing the most important things, then what are you doing?
- Delegate more
After you’ve worked out the above, pick at least two things from your to-do list at the start of each week and delegate them. These should be some of the things that are getting in your way. Take the time to do this now and it will save you time in the future. Don’t forget that you can start by delegating components of a bigger job if you’re not comfortable giving it away completely
- Automate where you can
In most jobs, there will be some things you don’t consider most important, but which need to be done anyway. Map out a process for these things so that you are not re-inventing the wheel every time you have to do them, or better yet set up some templates so you can automate/streamline them where possible
- Do a little bit of what you like
One of the things that can get in the way is the fact that you might actually like doing the other stuff. Maybe it’s a hangover from your previous position, maybe you’re just really good at it, but in any case, there is the lure of doing something you enjoy. You can do a little of these things, but make sure they’re not getting in the way. Nine times out of ten, the reason people like something is because they’re good at it. Spend more time doing the most important things – you’ll get better at them and then chances are you’ll like doing them as much as the others.
Your performance is directly related to your ability to pay attention to the things that matter most (and not pay as much attention to the other stuff). It seems like a small thing, but most people actually don’t know what’s most important. Work that out and you’ll be more productive and effective.
** Tony Wilson is a Workplace Performance Expert. His insights into performance science and it's application in the workplace will make you re-think the way that you approach leadership, culture change, high performance and productivity. Tony has an MBA and a BSc majoring in physiology and delivers workshops and keynote presentations around the globe.