This week I have been stressing and fretting over all the items on my TO DO list. It is driving me crazy. Every felt that way?
On the flight to conduct a workshop at HRSouthwest Conference in Fort Worth TX this week I read a timely book, Decide: Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress and Lead by Example by Steve McClatchy. Every day we make choices that either move us towards gain or away from pain. All the tasks on our To Do lists fit into one of these two categories. Interesting.
I wonder how my overwhelming TO DO list breaks down. Am I taking adequate steps to move towards gain or am I focused too much on preventing pain? Let’s take a look at how McClatchy defines his terms.
GAIN tasks are not urgent. They don’t have deadline dates usually. You can’t delegate these tasks. Gain tasks produce significant results that move your business or life forward into a direction you intend.
PREVENT PAIN tasks are urgent, everyday tasks that can really burn up time. Bad things happen when you neglect these tasks but these tasks don’t move your cause (professional or personal) forward toward any big hairy goal.
Honestly, most of the items on my TO DO list prevent pain and don’t move me forward.
Accounting and bookkeeping, LinkedIn follow-up, setting appointments and writing blogs are the work that happens behind the scenes to help me connect with my audience and measure my progress towards my goals. If I miss the deadlines sometimes bad things happen. I feel burned out and burdened by these tasks.
Behind the scenes are some really important projects that I am not getting done. For months I have been almost done with a new online training program that will move our business forward. The key here is “for months”. The training program is a game changer. Nothing bad happens if I don’t work on it but if I don’t work on it, nothing happens.
I am letting myself get distracted from the GAIN tasks by the day to day things that PREVENT PAIN. That is just not smart.
McClatchy suggests that if you want to GAIN then figure out how to clear your plate of those PREVENT PAIN tasks so you can give more time and attention to tasks that move you closer to your goal.
Wow, this new perspective can be a game changer!
We can take this analogy in another direction. Look at the way you describe your career in LinkedIn. Do you describe yourself in terms of the “expected” descriptions? We call them the “duh” tasks. Or do you focus on the times in your life when you stepped beyond to achieve significant positive results?
Take a red pencil and go into your LinkedIn profile or resume and strip out all the expected “duh” items.
Leave only the results, the evidence that you were there, the GAIN you achieved by doing the unexpected or more than the expected. This makes you unique, gives you something to talk about.
I had the chance to try this with Bruce’s resume. He included every ranking of sales results in the last 20 years, even the times his results brought his team in last. As a sales manager sales results are expected, the “duh”.
When I stripped out all those extraneous sales results we were left with the most interesting parts, the unexpected achievements that are the pizzazz in any career.