- Mon, August 11 2008
- Filed under: Fun stuff
I truly believe that email is valuable, but it can take over your day. So can meetings, phone calls and other task-oriented events. And in the buzz of busyness in these tasks, it’s easy to lose the vision you need to know what you should do first and why.
Here’s how I’m trying to cope:
1. I made a list of seven questions that speak to the seven most important strategic goals I have at work. They are questions about big aims. For example, on of them is, “Does it improve customer service?” I hung the list right over my desk.
2. Whenever I have a pause in my day or an inner debate about what to do next, I put any task that takes over two minutes against the list. If the answer to all seven questions is NO, then the task gets tabled. There’s no question, how you spend your time determines your success or failure with just about anything. Saying no to things that aren’t important frees up the time to focus on what is.
3. When things are important, I try to build a system around them that ensures they stay important. Our marketing team went on retreat at the beginning of the summer, and we spent a whole day on practical ways we could improve the experience of Network for Good prospects and customers - the people who use us to raise money. We spent hours going through everything we do from their perspective, and we uncovered all kinds of ways we could be more helpful to them. We turned that into a to-do list that we meet on bi-weekly. How many strategy retreats end up as a summary in a binder somewhere? We feared that, so we assigned owners and deadlines for every idea. Of course, no one is perfect. Our most recent meeting has been delayed twice because of urgent things that arose in the office - but at least those were things that spoke to the seven priorities hanging above my desk.
I still fail all the time at this and every other good intention, but I’m trying to stick to the plan. I’m also trying to make sure I structure the unstructured time I need to think creatively. Sometimes doing nothing is the best possible way to come up with great ideas.