Now every gambler knows that the secret to surviving. Is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep.
Many times these words of Kenny Rogers describing “The Gambler” come to mind when working with clients who just can’t find enough time to tackle all the items on their lists. Consider that your “deck”, or time allotment, never changes. It comes with 24 hours. To Do lists can become lengthy and overwhelming, and with the long list comes guilt at not getting it done. People gamble on having enough time to do everything, but reality is that, within those 24 hours, it isn’t possible.
What helps to separate the winners from the losers is the ability to prioritize their work, accomplishing the “important” tasks that need to be done.. The important tasks, those aces to keep, are the ones that make a difference in the growth of your company or in moving you closer to your personal goals. Consider the following two scenarios.
You walk into your office in the morning to a cleared desk. You prioritized today’s work the night before, so when you sit down at your desk, you already know what your first chore is. Closing your door for an hour and a half and/or limiting interruptions, you work out all the details on the biggest project. By 11 a.m., it’s wrapped up and ready to deliver. Then you settle down and work on the other scheduled items for the day, in order of priority. When it’s time to go home, you know you had a productive day. You leave feeling accomplished.
You walk into your office in the morning and look at all the stacks of papers around you, along with an overflowing inbox. Trying to decide what it is that you really need to do today, you have to look through the stacks to see what has become so urgent that it can no longer be put off. Before you begin, you check your email in case there’s something important. After 45 minutes of skimming through accumulated email to decide which ones can be postponed, you take a break. Taking fifteen minutes for a couple of social conversations on the way from the coffee station, you are back at your desk. It’s time to decide what to do. The piles are looming, so you choose several smaller items that don’t take too much effort to get done. At the end of the day, someone asks for your work on the project that is due tomorrow, and you start to panic. How can you get all of that done by the deadline? You are now facing another late night of work, loss of sleep, and stress at the pressure.
So what can you do to change from Scenario Two to Scenario One?
…’cause ev’ry hand’s a winner and ev’ry hand’s a loser….
- List all tasks, using one sheet of paper for each task.
- Decide which ones you can eliminate.
- What are the consequences of doing this?
- What are the consequences of not doing this?
- Why do it now?
- Stack the remaining ones in order of priority.
- Put that stack in your desk drawer in a hanging file.
- When you come into the office in the morning, take out the first item only.
- Focus on getting that one job done before moving on to the next.
If you’re gonna play the game… ya gotta learn to play it right.
You got to know when to hold ‘em (do now), know when to fold em (do later).
Know when to walk away (delegate) and know when to run (discard).