Ticking items off your to-do list is great, but getting the right things done is even better
We all recognize the picture. Apart from the occasional period of downtime when we have time to catch our breath, work happens at a hundred miles an hour and our list of stuff to do grows even faster. It seems the more we get done, the more remains to execute. Produce memos, answer client emails, write research reports, ship code, plan marketing campaigns, the list goes on. It’s tempting, therefore, to attack your to do list by simply working from top to bottom, droning through your day as a machine on autopilot.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this isn’t necessarily the most productive way to go about it, nor is it the best way to generate greatest impact for yourself, your team or organization. Being busy isn’t the same as being productive, which in theory means that you can spend an entire working day (or week, or month, etc.) working on things that don’t move the needle in a truly meaningful way.
It really matters what matters most
Clearly, it’s key to thoroughly prioritize the things on your agenda to ensure maximum ‘bang for buck’ in terms of time spent working. Because remember, if you treat everything as a priority, in fact nothing is a priority. Thankfully, there are several ways to determine what are the most important tasks to work on, including the well-known Eisenhower Method (read about it here) which helps separate the most important and time-pressing matters from those which can either wait or be ignored altogether.
But having a theoretical framework only gets us so far, and the real question is how to actually determine which tasks we should treat as a priority. When you weigh one activity against another, what should tip the scale in either direction? Priorities naturally change over time - or at least should in order to properly reflect the natural cycle of evolving business needs and requirements - and the things that matter most today might not matter as much tomorrow.
Goals are the goal 🎯
This is where goals come in. Goals guide the direction in which the company is heading, and all activities that teams and individuals prioritize on a daily basis should always derive from the goals of your organisation. Remember, goals aren’t the same thing as tasks, but rather the outcome of accumulated performed tasks that deliver a set of milestones, which in turn comprise the fulfilled goal.
Without a clear anchoring in bigger goals, tasks risk becoming a set of random activities performed in a vacuum which don’t have a measurable impact on furthering the company’s mission. Frankly, in that case your time is probably better spent doing something else. Expressed differently: the effectiveness and success of an organisation is determined by its ability to define relevant goals and use resources at hand to reach them. For a company, it all starts and finishes with goals and it should for you, too.
Straight-forward process, unlimited potential 📈
The method we promote is simple, but oh so effective when you stick to it. Break bigger goals down into shorter milestones, and formulate weekly, actionable items to get you there. Assess progress as you go along and fine-tune if necessary. Evaluate the total outcome at the end of the week and draw up next week’s milestones and activities to hit ground running after the weekend, including any milestones you didn’t reach in the last sprint if they are still relevant. Working in a purpose-driven manner like this creates strong alignment across the organisation, and fuels high levels of engagement and execution momentum.
If you have any comments or suggestions of your own on how to unleash the full productivity potential of your team, I would love to hear from you (firstname.lastname@example.org)
By: Johan Flodgren