I Screwed My Most Valuable Asset – Have You Screwed Yours?

DwightDEisenhowerI have always taken on too much. The control freak in me? Or an incredible insecurity to prove myself? I dread not keeping promises or repaying even a $10 debt: am obsessed with lists and productivity. Frankly- I’ve screwed up massively. Don’t make this same massive mistake. Here is how, and why.

Too much to do. Never enough time. Know that feeling? It does not matter how hard and efficiently I work, I always have a never decreasing set of lists needing action… on various aspects of my job, my family, home, health, financial admin, networks, and the lists go on. I work relentlessly. My days are filled with meetings- that’s part of my role; there is no shortage of senior executives who ask for time, clients who demand it or industry contacts to keep in touch with. And around those meetings a constant stream of ‘to do’s’.

I rarely have time for ‘me’. It just seemed impossible to ‘fit it all in’. Until I heard this sage advice from a South African business tycoon who spoke at a conference I was speaking at in Africa in July. It has revolutionized my thinking. This is what he said:

“Only Do What Only You Can Do”

Simple. Insightful. Profound.

Only do what ONLY YOU can do.

How To Make This Work For You

First, every week, sit quietly for 10 minutes. Get clarity about what your BIG ROCKS are for the week or month ahead. What are the 4-6 major projects that you need to ensure you are engaged in and driving.

Second, when I review my ‘to do’ lists for the next day or week, or someone wants a meeting, I now pause and ‘double check’:  “Do I really need to do that? Can a colleague just as effectively (or indeed, often, much better) handle that?” Most of the time the answer is: “No need for you, big fella.”

Third, double check again: if you have decided “no, not needed”, just cross reference it to your BIG ROCKS and ensure your decision does not undermine your critical priorities.

This is how I have been using “Only Do What Only You Can Do.” It’s made a real and powerful difference. Give it a try!

Urgent Vs Important- Another Great Concept

Former Ogilvy Australia Chairman, Tom Moult , shared his approach: “Don’t let the urgent get in the way of the important.” That’s another great concept. As US President Dwight Eisenhower said: “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”

Focus on your important and urgent tasks…then the important and not urgent (often this is where the longer term most value is created for your business, via relationships being built, teams developed, plans agreed)…. Then, and only then, turn to the most distracting of all…the urgent but NOT important tasks… and then of course those not urgent and not important tasks that suck up so much time. STOP DOING THEM ALTOGETHER!!!!

Right, enough already:  that’s another not urgent and not overly important job done. Better go now and stop my son playing with that flick knife and cobra.

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14 Responses to I Screwed My Most Valuable Asset – Have You Screwed Yours?

  1. Shona October 10, 2012 at 3:36 am #

    I’m going to try this… maybe the “to-do” list will get short enough to not feel overwhelming!

    • Chris Savage October 10, 2012 at 9:36 am #

      Shona- let me know how you go! Chris

  2. Gerhard Myburgh October 10, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Too true. Thanks for a great post.

    • Chris Savage October 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

      Thanks Gerhard

  3. Adrianne October 10, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    So I guess a coffee catch up is out of the question … 🙂

    • Chris Savage October 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

      If I am the only one who can do it, count me in!!!

  4. Jacqui October 10, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    Loved it – such a really simple way of putting it! Thanks.

    • Chris Savage October 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

      Thanks Jacqui!

  5. MC Hammer October 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    You owe me 10 bucks.

    • Chris Savage October 10, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

      I was prepared to pay more…

  6. Aryeh Sternberg October 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    Seems like another case where we need to measure how efficient and how effective we can be with the Urgent and Important tasks, and if we are being asked to do things that we are neither efficient or effective at doing then there is probably someone else who should be doing it.

  7. Craig Charnock October 19, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Importance vs urgent is a crucial concept to grasp!

    Quadrant 2 tasks as per covey’s 7 habits, definitely worth working on till they sink in!



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