One of the biggest challenges facing young professionals is not enough time to do what needs to be done.
There are simply not enough hours of the day and you chase the illusive clock trying to stretch another minute from a dwindling resource.
The results of this can be catastrophic.
With insufficient bandwidth available given the workload in front of you the body shuts down. Too much is being asked of limited physical capabilities.
Moreover, with so many balls in the air, no single task is performed well. Limited time available consumed by too many projects dilutes the quality of each, rendering a portfolio of mediocrity.
It doesn’t have to be that way, because there IS sufficient time available to do what needs to get done.
Most individuals don’t know how to focus on the critical few things that are really important. They get caught up in the “possible many” things that COULD be done.
Busyness is a characteristic of someone who doesn’t have a plan; who hasn’t separated the “must do’s” from the “nice to do’s”. Who has not through what 3 things, for example, could possibly get them 80% of the way to their goal as opposed to the 50 other things they could be doing.
We have an inherent preoccupation with busyness and somehow believe that if we are busy we are accomplishing what we need to.
Busyness is an activity trap that robs you of achievement but it feels good.
So how do you avoid the activity trap?
STOP! Put down your busyness tools, step back, take a deep breath and create a 24-month game plan to guide what you do and when you do it.
Your game plan should contain these elements:
1. The result – WHAT you expect to achieve in 24 months. This could be career related or something you want to deliver in your job or personal life.
Be specific; paint a clear picture of what success looks like. If your target is vague, you won’t be able to define concrete objectives to get you there. “I want to create an awesome personal brand” isn’t very helpful to inform the specific steps you need to take to do it.
2. Six potential objectives that, if achieved, would deliver 80% of the result you are going after.
Not all six will have the same impact; prioritize the list and rank them in terms of their contribution.
Use the “fast and easy” criterion in your thinking. With limited time available, speed and difficulty to achieve should play major roles in deciding your top six.
It’s ok to start out with a list of more than six, but you have to make hard choices to get down to six. Trying to boil the ocean is a non-starter.
3. Discard the bottom three objectives. Put them on the back burner for future consideration. They represent your “go to” work if the top three fail to deliver as expected.
4. Execute on the top three. Cease any further analysis; it’s time to get on with it.
Set target dates for the key milestones in each objective.
5. At the end of each 30-day period, take a time out to review your progress. What’s working/not working? What insight have you gained that will be helpful over the next 30 days? Tweak your top 3 based on your executional learnings.
6. After every 3-months, drop a top 3 member that way off its expected performance. If something isn’t working, drop it unceremoniously.
Don’t second guess your thinking; just do it. Go to your back burner list for a replacement and start executing.
You may not like the discipline involved in this approach, but it works, trust me.
You do have a choice, however, to stay busy and not achieve your goals.
It’s your call.