Peter Drucker said “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

When you accomplish a lot of tasks, you may feel productive and efficient; but are you truly effective? Today’s business culture stresses “Do more, faster, with less!”  With deadlines looming, it is easier to just try to do it all, instead of taking the time to sift through everything to find the few key items that are most important to getting the job done.

If you implement the 5 Steps to Being More Effective at Work below, you can simplify your work, accomplish more (really!), reduce your stress (wouldn’t that be nice), and feel more confident in achieving your goals.

Step One:  What’s My Destination? (My Vision)

Determine what you want from your career and what your desired outcomes would be.  The clearer you are on your “big picture,” the more tangible and the easier it will be to achieve.

Step Two:  What Should I Consider? (My Strategy)

As your Vision becomes clearer, strategize on how you will obtain those tangible outcomes.

Step Three: How Will I Get There? (My Plan)

The secret to achieving your Vision is taking the time to plan what works best for you—what you want to do, what you want to change, and what you want to leave behind.

Step Four:  What’s on My Plate? (Making Room for My Plan)

For your Plan to work, you must decide where to focus your attention. Take charge of your environment (physical and mental), clear away clutter, unnecessary appointments, or tasks that detract from your Plan.  Make a list of everything, and prioritize each item from most important to least important.  Items at the bottom will never get down.  They just suck energy, so delete them.

Step Five:  Where’s My Focus? (Staying on Track)

It is critical to keep your focus on what will move you forward toward your Vision.  Create measurements you can use to check if you are on or off track against those prioritized items on your list from Step Four.

 

Although, this exercise will take some time to think about and act upon, as my clients have learned, it is well worth the effort.

Let your motto be:  Do the Right Things, Not Everything!

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What’s on my plate?

So many details competing for attention—meetings, emails, projects…and so little time. It is discouraging, overwhelming, and disheartening.  No matter how hard we try, we can never, ever get it all done.  We just keep getting more.

I tried and it almost killed me. I learned that no matter how many hours I put in, I couldn’t do it all, and was determined to work smarter—what were the right things to get my objectives done, rather than work on everything that came along.

To decide what is really important and what is just getting in the way, step back to get a clearer view of what is on your plate. David Allen writes in his book, “Getting Things Done,” list everything work-related, personal, or community focused to sort out what requires your attention now, what can be dealt with later, delegated to someone else, or unceremoniously dumped. This takes a while but is well worth it.  It gets it out of your head, off of those sticky notes that get lost, and on to one list that can be dealt with more easily.

Now that you have your list, I suggest using these questions as a guideline for further action.

  • How does each item impact the successful completion of my commitments and goals?
  • What can I eliminate because it keeps sinking to the bottom of my list and has just become an annoyance when I see it, or it just does not have any impact?
  • What requests can I say no to?

As you begin to focus on the right things, not only will you feel in control and more confident and less stressed, others will notice too.  Worked for me. It can work for you too.

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