Detmer's Corner: The Joy of Getting Stuff Done
My neighbor Dave is a fanatic when it comes to tools. So it was no surprise that when I asked him about brightening up my coquina stone steps, he brought over an industrial-grade pressure washer. “With 5,000 PSI, this bad-boy will have your steps looking great,” Dave assured me.
After strapping on a facemask, inserting earplugs and engaging the electric starter, I was transformed into a pressure-washing beast and became instantly amazed at how clean the steps got as I waved the wand over each stone. But more interestingly, I grew elated by an incredible sense of accomplishment as each step was transformed right in front of my eyes.
Seeing the immediate effects, I contemplated how incredible it would be if business processes yielded such immediate results. In today’s frantic business environment, it sometimes seems there’s nothing one can get done before several other priorities take over and derail the progress.
If you’ve ever felt this way, don’t give up. There’s hope for the overwhelmed at work. You just need to follow a few basic guidelines. Whenever you feel overwhelmed at work, try these techniques to stay on track:
Practice what Covey preached. The late, great educator Stephen Covey helped millions of business professionals with his straightforward approach to priority management. His approach is simple: List everything that’s coming your way. Then sort the list in order of importance and urgency. From there, focus on the important and urgent things first, followed by the important but not-so-urgent, while you avoid being pulled away by unimportant distractions.
To get a visual overview of the process, try Googling images of “Stephen Covey 4-quadrant time management.” Or use the worksheet on this page!
Publish your Top Five Priorities. It’s no secret that what you focus on, you will do. That’s one reason that race car drivers are coached to look for an open spot when their car is in a spin. Simply put, drivers who focus on the wall end up hitting it.
Publishing a Top Five Priorities list is one way to impart focus in your business. Make the effort to publish your list and share it with your team, so everyone is on the same page.
Do this as often as necessary. I personally publish a weekly list that aligns with my company’s quarterly goals.
Keep your head in the game. No matter what level you’re at in your company, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Living in an overwhelmed state will eventually affect your self-esteem and can make you feel like you are not moving forward.
When this happens to me, I narrow my focus to getting just one thing accomplished. After it’s done, I always feel much better about the situation and myself, and I’m able to take on more. Remember Al Pacino’s words in Any Given Sunday: “Life’s this game of inches,” he exclaimed in order to help his team understand that incremental progress eventually scores.
Trumpet your successes. Celebrating small wins can be a powerful motivational tool. Most people want more out of work than a paycheck. Feelings of accomplishment, belonging and having fun are powerful motivators. Make sure you take note of the inches that lead up to the score as well as the big score itself.
Give these tips a try and experience the joy of getting stuff done for yourself.
Good doing! TI