Are you – like most people – frequently feeling busy and thinly stretched? Where the size of your ‘to do’ list seems to get in the way of discerning what’s important and what’s urgent. So while everything seems urgent and ticking tasks off provides relief and accomplishment – you are making progress – you know there’s a bigger game you could be playing. What if there was a different way of approaching your workload that would enable you to have the focus and clarity to drive your bigger game?
Goals aren’t the problem – the number of them and how frequently they change are
Research has shown that poor goal delivery is most often due to 1) trying to execute too many goals 2) the goal posts changing too frequently 3) poor communication of what the most important goals are and why they matter, and 4) poor accountability of who owns the goals in the first place.
Your results are your ability to discern between what is important and what is ‘top priority’
One of the biggest differences between A and B game players is their ability to discern between goals which are merely important and those which are top priority – those that must be reached or nothing else matters.
I often ask my clients two simple questions:
- If we were sitting here a year from now, and you were to tell me the three things you’ve achieved that you are most proud of achieving, what would they be?
- For each of your key areas of responsibility in your role, what would you have done to tell me that you’d ‘nailed it’ this year?
Discern what is top priority – everything else is not
What a great racing skipper asked every day was “will this make the boat go faster?” Or another way of asking the same thing is, is this going to fulfil our mission or our promise to our customers?
So how do you not get sucked into black holes like email?
Establish your ‘main game’ in your role
Do this by being clear on what your key goals are (3-4 BIG ones each year broken down to 2-3 top priority goals per quarter) and you’ll achieve three things:
- You’ll be clear on what your priorities are, so you can evaluate “what makes the boat go faster” for you.
- You’ll make your own life easier because you’ll be tracking against your own performance standards which can be motivating when you chart your progress.
- At the end of the year, you’ll have achieved up to 12 big things (3 per quarter) – that’s a lot!
Learn to say no
Although saying no can be tough, it’s got to be done – even when the idea is a great one for example. Otherwise, others will be managing your agenda, not you. Being busy and being effective are necessarily not the same thing, whether we like it or not.
The reality is this – it’s better to focus on a smaller number of things, and do them really well, than not complete a vast array of things, not very well. In other words, change your focus to ensure you prioritise well and execute the things that matter. That’s what A Game players do. Everything else is background noise that will distract you from your main game.