Some days what we put on our blank to do page is like adding gasoline to a blazing fire – powerful in that it empowers us to work hard on some important thing, because we might be presenting our most powerful message to an anxious-to-hear-it audience.
Hold on, just a minute …
My day was planned already. I didn’t plan for so many time-gobbling alterations. I was set. Or thought I was, for a day of orderly, logical, must-do items, move-things-along on deals and relationships, calling/writing or doing something I’ve promised.
Add to that, incoming emails, texts, phone calls, and a mix of everything from the tiny or mundane to the large/urgent/fantastic opportunity that builds on that roaring fire.
The ideal magic trick would be to make it all go away, to only let the creative, exciting brain candy activities take up the whole day; because, just imagine what you can do with a singular focus, without all those other tasks, chores, diarized follow-ups, meetings, appointments, errands, and ‘don’t forget me’ items that cloud our page, disturb our focus and blunt our concentration.
I know I’m not alone; this is not a problem anyone created to vex me, I’m not a victim, this is reality.
However, I’ll admit it has grown easier since July 8, 2022 – I know I’m not alone in this morass of productivity fog, but I am seeing this issue more clearly, scheduling my life in a way that will lead to more productive days, faster follow-ups, and more BHAG progress in my life.
Now, back to my day …
By then, wondering where did my morning go, and some days it’s “Where did the day go? I got nothing done that I planned on doing, and most of what overwhelmed me was some kind of waste, not what it appeared to be, or not urgent after all.”
Or it might be that dreaded call, the one we should have made a long time ago, the apology we should have made a long time ago, the problem we should have fixed a long time ago.
I have tried major and minor versions of these tweaks often enough over many years, I’ve tried so many remedies – each getting better, but ideal and smooth have proven elusive.
If there is a way to organize/triage, reorganize or schedule those exciting AND great potential opportunities into their high-value lane, I’ve found that can’t work unless we also exercise rigorous control in how we keep track of everything else …
This is exciting, but it can consume a lot of time and energy; I need more of the first but still need time and energy for the second part – that’s my story; I’m sticking to it …
The fix is obvious: make important calls ASAP, fix problems ASAP, and apologize ASAP.
For me, and I expect for most people, by the time we schedule the ASAP items, there is little time or energy on our daily calendar for the work on the explosive energizing power of doing our best work, presenting our ideas and services to the best people in the best possible ways.
So, if this is a problem, how do I/we solve it?
Each year, in my industry, this Nov-Dec time frame is a combo of mop-up delayed things, planning strategically for the following year, spending some time analyzing what’s been going well, what needs work or refocusing, what’s new-think for adopting, what’s the niche work/service/product that will be most important to clients I work with next year, and question whether I’m committing time and effort appropriately, wisely, and effectively to pursue that successfully.
And, when we least expect it, fresh opportunities come sailing along …
A lot of this is brain candy, but important brain candy for me. What should not be lost in this, or any other planning exercise comes in two parts – about me, and about my current/prospective clients as I ask:
What did I miss? Can I fix it? Can I catch up?
What did they miss? How can I help them fix a problem or catch up?
One of the toughest constants to grasp in business, mine anyway, is that most decisions and, therefore most transactions, don’t come because a clever salesman showed to reveal magical solutions for clients who didn’t know they had a problem; most decisions, most transactions, come from some pain point, and to a less common degree, about pleasure.
If we have a pain point to solve, we can become paralyzed by it if we don’t wrestle it into a cage where we can manage it or defeat or eradicate the problem. There are countless examples in commercial, residential and institutional real estate where I concentrate my focus – financial constraints and space problems (too much, too little, wrong). In every industry, there is a unique spectrum of issues, each with their unique pain points.
The bigger the business, the bigger the words, but it all comes down to identifying and owning the pain point/problem and doing something about fixing it. It’s rarely complicated algebra, solving for X. It’s usually plain and evident to someone coming in with fresh eyes, but tougher to see from the inside because of so many issues, noise, and day-to-day requirements of the business clouding the view.
Pleasure should be easy to understand.
Every time we see an advertisement for pizza, a holiday, a car, or some service that will make life more pleasant and make our business more successful – we respond because we want pleasure; we need pleasure. There is rarely better brain candy than something pleasant and easy decision that makes life/business happier and more successful, pure sugar!
Is there a simple divining action to separate these roles and types of issues, so we can be the most productive? Do we separate them by the time of day, day of the week, etc.?
Problems postponed rarely get better, so ‘alternating months or weeks’ to solve problems and do great new work isn’t such a good idea. If we alternate days of the week, or weeks of the month, that might help us organize work plans better, but when the phone rings, an email arrives today – the urgent + important kind – we can’t reply saying, “I’m working on other things this week/month – so I’ll try to get to your problem/issue when I’m finished what I’m doing now” … because most of us would not have jobs or customer for long.
Here’s my improved/simplified strategy; daily tasks/personal and professional ‘must do’ items show up on every day’s calendar – either written down, or deeply etched in our brain so never forget. There is variance on certain days of the week, but 10-15 tasks daily are my every day reminders.
I’m trying to weave better management of tasks with the irregularities of my work and my ways, so the focus, every day, must be:
work on new business and new business in progress
One time allotment for the morning, one for the afternoon.
This seems so simple, because it is when we have nothing pressing or emergent to do, but it becomes very complicated to manage when we are in the middle of transactions, changes, conversations and half-solved problems.
It seems, that I love this far more than I dislike its gritty parts.