Monday, 16 February 2009

JUGGLE TAKEAWAY #1 Ask Yourself: 'Where Is The Value In What You Are Doing' (right now)

With lots to do, one of your biggest challenges in juggling is not so much what to do, but more importantly what NOT to do. Choose to spend time on ‘the wrong stuff’ and you’ll be wasting your time.

How can you ensure you focus on the Right Stuff? Apply value criteria in calculating what is a priority. Is the boss or client screaming for something? Is there a courier waiting outside for it? For everyday task prioritisation and ‘Do I do this now?’ stuff, you need to constantly ask this question:

‘What or where is the value in what I am doing. Right now?’

Apply that question to dealing with that email, browsing that website, attending that meeting, seeing that supplier. You have to be ruthless with your time (and in ‘play’ too). That doesn’t mean rule out everything else; it just means make sure you know there’s value in all you do. You can still take that ten minutes to browse over a coffee or to take half an hour to go for that run. Because both of those have value (hey, take ten minutes for a power nap, so long as you benefit from it!).

Ditto with tasks, meetings and projects. Value may not always be strictly about the bottom line, but other benefits. You have so many opportunities to evaluate, you have to – and in a flash – decide and prioritise. You have to make choices constantly.

We are all aware of the stuff that can take over our day. The stuff we don’t really need to, but get sucked into it. You need to try and eliminate distraction.

Stuff like random web surfing, browsing Facebook aimlessly, watching that ‘Father Ted’ clip on YouTube, anything that will give you cause to procrastinate what you are meant to be doing.

The other day I decided I needed some new office furniture. I can’t remember what prompted me to do it there and then but I drove to an out of town store, found nothing. Wasted time. Drove to another store. And then I got frustrated, at 40 minutes in, and then 90 minutes in. How did I get sucked into this? What was I thinking? All that time invested and nothing back. I should’ve just looked online or thought about where I wanted to go before I started.

Asking the ‘where is the value?’ question is another way of looking at the much talked about 80/20 rule; the principle that 20% of your efforts is responsible for 80% of your success. It’s maximising that 20% and reducing wastage.

Also try asking yourself, ‘is what I am doing now making a contribution to what I am all about’? Sitting in this meeting, hanging out with this team, delivering this project, making this phone call, is this part of my DNA, is this who I am? And if you feel, 'this isn't me?' then act on it. Get out.

Use these criteria to make sure what you’re doing now has a pay-off. That pay-off might not be today, might not be next week, but somewhere, where is the Return On Investment? It doesn’t have to just be financial; it might be stimulation or fulfilment.

If there’s no return, dump what you’re doing.

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