I am sure that we have all had times in our lives when it has seemed as if we are sleepwalking through life. We start every day with ambitious plans, but somehow we let “important” distractions get in our way, and before we know it, the train home is on the immediate horizon.
“Ah, no problem, I’ll have time to do it tomorrow.”
If you can’t sit back at the end of every day and think about what you have achieved of substance, then what is the point of getting out of bed in the first place? Well, I suppose that the salary at the end of the month adds a certain amount of motivation, and most of us enjoy the company of our colleagues, but that isn’t really why we are employed. We are there to make a difference, and when we make a difference for our employers, we simultaneously make a difference for ourselves. When we achieve things, we raise our self-esteem that little bit higher. Every win, no matter how small, gives us the fuel and the desire to go onto bigger and better things.
Why, therefore, don’t we achieve more with the time we have?
My view is that, for the most part, this isn’t for want of trying. Much lies in our inability to prioritise and propensity to tackle the easiest jobs first. If someone asks us to do something simple (but not urgent), many of us feel bad if we don’t do it immediately, when actually delaying it until tomorrow would be perfectly acceptable. This puts the truly important activities one place further down the queue, and it is often the case that we rush what needn’t have been rushed and the result is nowhere near what it could have been.
It’s all about impact.
You’re not going to make much of a mark on the world when you are picking off all this low-hanging fruit, but for the time taken to complete three easy tasks, you could potentially make real inroads into something that has been hanging over you for days. This might involve choosing to delegate or ignore the lesser tasks, but if you concentrate on maximising the genuine return on your time, you will be able to go home every evening with a smile on your face.
I always find that the day before I go on holiday is the the most productive in that month; why can’t every day be like that?
If you are seen as someone who only does the important stuff, others will trust you with more of it. If, on the other hand, you are happy to be delegated all the rubbish, your life as a doormat beckons. Have some pride in your ability to make things happen, and you will soon be making a meaningful difference every day. Do it for yourself, by all means, but make sure that you take on the tasks that are also of maximum benefit to others. Achieving something that also makes a difference in someone else’s life is so much more worthwhile.
What have you achieved of value today? What was your impact on the world?