We juggle numerous tasks, day in and day out. The mountain of work can often seem to grow every day and the amount of work we need to do never seems to end. It is at times like these when it’s important to question the quality of the work we are doing. There are days when we may complete 20 different to-do list items, but what have we accomplished in the grander picture?
The to-do list is inevitable and quite powerful. It is the means through which our goals can become a reality, but it can also become a problem when it starts having a life of its own and controlling our lives. Instead, you can ask yourself the following questions at the beginning of each day:
What matters the most today?
What will have the greatest impact?
What is crucial today?
Other activities may be important, but the answers to these questions are key items that will make the most difference in your company. These tasks should guide your day as well as the rest of your to-do list. Simply accomplishing tasks is not enough. The goal should be to complete the tasks that will have the greatest long-term impact on the company.
Determine What is Most Important
What matters? Ask yourself this question at the beginning of the day before anything else gets your attention. What would make the most difference to my company?
Sometimes the answer might not be so clear. That’s because this question invites even deeper inquiries. These are questions that, if answered, clarify our current goals and even what matters the most for us. If you made goals at the beginning of the year for the entire year, then the answer should be anchored to the overarching goals. Our daily tasks need to be the actions that take us closer to reaching those yearly goals.
It may be that things didn’t go as planned during the year, and your priorities may have shifted. If so, the answer to your question will change. The questions might be a trigger to reevaluate your goals for the year and adjust as necessary.
The answer may surprise you. The most important thing in the day might be to take the morning off so you can take care of that cold that hasn’t gone away in two weeks. Determining what action is the most vital will center the rest of your actions.
Organize Your Day
Once you have decided what your main tasks are for the day, you can organize the rest of your to-do list by priority. Work on the important tasks first so you can ensure that they will get accomplished. Try not to get distracted by items that are less relevant and other tasks you can easily cross off your to-do list.
That one good decision, as a leader, is much more important than anything else you do in your day. It is a mindset shift, a difficult one for sure, but important nonetheless. Not everything has the same level of impact, and one important thing can have more value than 20 other items.