Many of you will understand this… We walk into work in the morning (even if it’s just a few short steps from our kitchen to our office), and we have some idea of how our day is going to unfold. Spending some time with our calendar, we see a few meetings and calls on our list. We’re going to focus on a handful of projects for the day — work to be done for our customers in the business. Most important, we’ve got some time blocked off to work ON our business. There’s marketing to tend to, new products and services to be developed, time spent envisioning what the future looks like, and one hundred other things we need to be working on to strengthen our business or organization.
At 8:00 A.M., as we launch into our day, there’s room for all of this to get done. By 9:00 A.M. (if not 8:05), that dream begins to shatter. The reality of the day sets in, and we shift from doing business to putting out fires. Instead of concentrating on the most important tasks for the day, our attention shifts to the urgent. We find ourselves playing a day-long game of Whack-a-Mole.
The reality is this… no day ever goes entirely as planned. For many of us, there is a constant tug-of-war at play for our attention. Being able to shift gears and change direction is an essential skill we all need to possess. We call it being agile. At the same time, here’s the challenge we all face. When the fires start, what’s the first thing to drop off of our list? The most important things — like working ON our business.
The important vs. the urgent… There is a constant battle raging in every business and organization’s background, trying to do both and hold it all together. It’s something we have wrestled with since day one. To be clear, it’s something we still wrestle with, but we have come up with some strategies that have helped us keep our focus clear and our energy in the right areas.
Here are three things we’ve done to stay dialed in on what’s most important:
- Define what the most important things are. First things first. If you haven’t clearly defined WHAT the most important actions you can take today to strengthen your business or organization, how can you possibly get those things done? It’s like leaving on a road trip but not knowing your destination. We need to understand as teams and leaders what…