Most people overestimate what tasks they can do in one week. Those same people often underestimate what value they can achieve in a decade.

Many of my clients often feel like the figure in the image on the left (of the double image to the right). They are struggling through a list of tasks that they can never accomplish in that week.

Many of those tasks were given to them. Many of those tasks they self-created. And many of them likely have some significant importance for the next week or two. Some are even important for the long term.

How does one turn their inner music of feeling buried in pebbles to feeling the confidence and pride of one’s longer-term achievements?

First, I encourage people to follow my three-step reality management process.

  1. See reality.  If you are a person focused on achieving big things, you will always find your plate overflowing.  People often tell me their weeks are unpredictable. Every week, they have a constant barrage of interrupts. The key is ‘every week.’ This means that there is a predictability to that unpredictability.  Track your week. See the patterns.
  2. Accept reality.  It isn’t enough to see what your own data is telling you. I have had many clients do data analysis to see that they would have to work 180 hours a week to recover a project.  Yet, they do not accept the data.  The reason for the denial is fear of the next step.
  3. Deal with reality.  This is usually the hardest step. You have to tell people that you are behind.  You may have to say no to certain tasks.  You may have to skip those meetings you have been going to that people really want you to attend. 

People often find this process hard until they implement the key point of this short newsletter.   Work on answering this question:  what is the long-term value and impact of all those hours of your work?

Here are some ideas of how to get to your own answer.

  • Who benefits? Who are the primary people that will benefit from your work?  How will they benefit?  What is the value and impact for them?
  • Think big about the possible benefits.  Over the long term, think beyond one year, how much more could your work have a positive impact?
  • Engage those around you.  Bringing in others on a longer-term positive vision is motivating for you and them. 
  • Anchor your efforts today on the long term impact you will make.  The reality management steps get much easier when one focuses on the distant horizon. You will need to make daily adjustments, but you must keep pointed towards the big value you can provide.

There are not one-time steps.  I encourage you to refresh periodically. If you need help getting your vision clear, reach out to others. I love helping with this.

The better you get at focusing on the value you provide, the more fun every week becomes.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,

Alan Willett

Images created by Megan Pugh at Blink Digitial

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