According to Success.com, the very 1st of 5 habits of highly successful people is to Plan your Day. Reading email, working with out a plan, allowing the day to control you rather than controlling your day is killing your productivity and preventing you from being truly successful.
If you spend all your time fighting fires, you will have no time left to get the really important work done. OK, so I will come clean here. I AM an adrenaline junky! It took me a long time to learn this and it was a hard lesson. Not being able to get the really important stuff done, cost me a job early on in my career.
So many of us wait with baited breath for the next email to arrive, the next crisis to solve, the next fire to put out. Its like instant gratification when you can solve problems so many of us crave that feeling of accomplishment. Resist I tell you! The really important and strategic work happens proactively, quietly and without fan fare.
So how to do you balance both? After all you can’t just ignore the fires or you will eventually get burned.
I’ve said it before. Plan and schedule time for the really important stuff. A good practice I use is to at least once per week, usually a Sunday night or Monday morning, I sit down at my desk without turning on the computer. I go through my planner and make note of all the tasks and activities that I have to complete and I prioritize those things that are proactive and strategic in nature, yes the important stuff. Those get an “A” and a due date. I will also have “B’s” and “C’s” but I focus most of my energy on the “A’s”. I then go through my calendar and working back from the due date, schedule time to complete that important work, the “A” priorities. This helps me manage my calendar as well so it doesn’t get clogged up with unnecessary meetings. Every time I complete a task or activity, I go back and tick it off my priority list. The satisfaction of that tick is equivalent to putting out a fire except I know that the work I’ve just done is even more important than that oxygen sucking fire.
What? Not turn on my computer? Yes I know, many of you can’t fathom NOT turning on the computer first thing, after all, 9 out of 10 of you do just that as soon as you get into work. You turn on your computer, read your emails, respond to urgent requests, attend back to back meetings and before you know it, it’s lunch time or worse, time to go home. Resist I tell you! Try it for a couple weeks. The fires will still be there when you eventually do turn on the computer. Coming in a little early to do this also helps, so you don’t lose any time if there is a legitimate fire you have to put out. You will be absolutely amazed at how much work you will accomplish when you sit down and proactively plan your work and amazed even more about how much of the really important stuff will and can get done. You get paid to be strategic not tactical. Your professional worth will go up exponentially if you become known for getting the really important stuff done.
Having managed many teams for years I can tell you this is one of the biggest issues I find with under performing resources. The inability to prioritize and get the really important things done. I recall coaching one of my managers who had an employee actually come to them and say “I’ve got so much on my plate, you tell me what you want me to do.” That’s a cope out. If you can’t prioritize your own work load, regardless of your level in the organization, its time for you to move on and perhaps think about your career choice. If your a business professional, time management and prioritization skills are an essential skills. You can’t be successful without these skills. The good news is you can learn these skills, it just takes time, practice and perseverance.
Now as an entrepreneur this is even more critical for me. If I’m to build a successful company www.procurepro.ca I have to have a plan and I must work that plan.
Remember if you Fail to Plan, then your are Planning to Fail!
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