The conversations have started in a few different ways (e.g., “How can we get the biggest return on marketing?”, “I’m having trouble deciding what to work on.”, “I have too much on my plate.”, etc.), but they ultimately all boil down to making the biggest positive impact with a finite set of resources.
Without trying to sound grandiose, I’m a productive professional: I have a knack for getting lots of high-impact stuff done.¹
Unfortunately, when I’m in these conversations I sometimes struggle to deliver what people want; namely, specific strategies and tactics that they can put into practice. Instead, I end up droning on philosophically about “approaches”.
I struggle because over the years I’ve just implicitly developed my way of working – it hasn’t been coached, it didn’t come from a book (despite all that I read²) – and there’s no one single trick that I can impart upon others.
Plus, I don’t really manage my own time or tasks all that formally (I don’t use Evernote, or Outlook tasks, etc. I, quite literally, write things on scraps of paper and keep those scraps of paper lying around on my desk. I occasionally consolidate these scraps.), so I don’t have a particular ‘system’ to which I can point people or that I can ask them to institute. Consequently, I end up talking about things as they spring into my mind, beginning sentences with “And another thing that might help…” or “Something that works for me is…”
I must drive people nuts.
In this short series, though, I shall attempt to distill my seemingly effective approach into specific strategies and tactics that others can read and apply.
I think, at the highest level, my strategies can be captured as:
- Work on the things that matter most
- Maximize return on energy
- Spin the plates (i.e., keep things moving)
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, the devil’s in the details.
¹I at least partially credit/blame the University of Waterloo for drilling me with an overwhelming amount of insanely challenging material for six years.
²I’ve read Getting Things Done, but the only thing I’ve put into practice is “If it’ll take less than two minutes, then do it now.”