Tag Archives: time management

Striving for mediocre is a poor way to achieve greatness

In my career, both in corporate American and as a Business Coach, I’ve frequently heard otherwise good capable people state a goal to become just like everyone else.  That’s not how it is said, of course.  It is always couched in phrases like, “Best practices are . . . .” or “Both my brothers were able to . . . .” or “The competition typically . . . .”  What follows next is usually a recommendation to achieve the banal, the commonplace and the typical.  People and companies who achieve these bland goals are frequently surprised when they stop, look around and realize that they haven’t achieved any level of greatness.

Yes, it is ok to have “good enough” levels for lower priority goals.  Life is a trade off.  You have enough time and resources to do anything.  You don’t have enough time and resources to do everything.  Manage your resources by identifying your one or two primary overpowering goals.  Divest in all other goals.

Your goal, that is your one primary overpowering goal, needs to be something special.  It needs to motivate and drive you.  Take to heart W. Clement Stone’s wisdom, “Aim for the moon.  If you miss, you may hit a star.”  Strive for more.  Reach for the seemingly unachievable.  Move.  Act.  Now.

Focus of effort chart

When pursuing a meaningful goal, there is simply too much to do.  The number of potential activities and tasks to take well outnumber the number of hours any one person has to do them.  A person trying to build there business needs to divide her time between selling, building her team, planning for the future, learning new skills, etc., etc., etc.  Something simply has to give.  She needs to prioritize her efforts.  Some things simply won’t get done, at least, not done in a timely manner.

A Focus of Effort Chart is a handy way to decide which tasks need to be prioritized.  Start by writing your goal across the top of a page.  Draw two vertical lines, creating three columns each about a third of the page wide.  On top of the column on the left write, “Things I can control.”  On top of the column on the right write, “Things I can NOT control.”  On top of the middle column write, “Things I can only influence.”  Now draw a horizontal line cross the middle of the page.  The top half of the page is for those tasks that will have a big impact on your goal.  The bottom half of the page is for those tasks that will have a small impact on your goal.

Now start filling in the chart with your action list (your goal based to-dos).  Those items in the “Things I can control” column that will have a big impact (top half of your page) are your high priority items.  These are the tasks you should do first.  Next look at the big impact “Things I can only influence” square.  Here you have to make a judgement call.  Since you have a lower level of control on these items, they are likely to require more effort for a similar level of result.  Does the amount of effort justify the impact?  If yes, these are higher priority items as well.  If not, then these items belong lower on the to-do list.  Those items under the “Things I can NOT control” column, most likely do not belong on your to-do list at all.  Now look at the low impact items.  Only do these things when time allows.

What does every successful person in the world and you have in common?  Time.  We all have 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  No more.  No less.  Every hour that ticks away unused is gone forever.  This is true for everyone.  Every successful person.  Every failure.  You get to decide which one you are going to be.

Look at all that the most successful person you can think of has accomplished.  Really try to list off all of their successes.  All of their accomplishments.  You have the same amount of time as this person.  24 hours a day.  365 days a year.

We all have enough time to be very successful at that one thing we really want to do.  The problem is that we don’t have enough time to be successful at everything we may want to do and we don’t have enough time to be amazingly successful AND to throw away too many hours on non-productive activities.  Not having enough time for your main passion means you haven’t given your passion enough of a priority.  You are allowing too many other goals or pleasures to interfere with your productivity.  A lack of time means a lack of priority.

A tool that can help you be more focused on your priorities is the Time EDIT tool.  This tool graphs that tasks that are taking up your time on a chart comparing “your level of influence over the outcome of that task” and the “level of importance to you” of that outcome.  This will put your tasks into one of four categories: Eliminate, Delegate, Investigate and Transform.

Eliminate: those items that you have little control over outcome and the outcome is of little importance to you.  That is any amount of time you are putting into these tasks are a waste of your time and energy.  Simply stop doing as many of these as you can.

Delegate: those items that you have a lot of control over the outcome but the outcome is of little importance to you.  Some of these items can be eliminated but you can also delegate these tasks.  In a home life, you can ask spouse or children to step up and take over.  In a professional life, you can attempt to delegate these tasks to other team members.  The important thing to save your time is to really delegate these tasks.  The outcome isn’t that important to you, so don’t micromanage.  It is ok if the person who steps up doesn’t do it as well as you or simply does it differently.

Investigate: these are tasks that are very important to you but you have little control over the outcome.  These tasks have a huge ability to drain your hours, your energy and your sanity.  With these tasks, you need to really consider if the outcome really is that important to you and what about the outcome is important.  It may be you can get that satisfaction with a task that you can influence.  Alternatively, ask yourself who does have the influence over the outcome?  Why is that?  It is their abilities, their position or something special about them.  Can you learn those skills or create a situation over time where you can have more influence.  Additionally, can you speak to the person who does have influence.  Can you influence the influencer.  If you can’t change the situation, then consider if you can minimize your efforts here.  It might not be worth the heartache.

Transform: this is the perfect combination of where you have the ability to influence the outcome and the outcome is important to you.  This is where you want to spend your time.  These tasks have the ability to transform your life.  Double down on the tasks that fit here.