Develop skills, develop assets.
Do this daily, every day. Also, try to avoid anything else. If something won’t result in an increase in skills, a boost to an asset, or a new asset, don’t do it. Meetings, I’m looking at you.
There are things we do for fun and there are other things we do to achieve a given goal. These activities may vary in intent between days or people. Some people run for fun, others for competition; sometimes those that run for fun need to run for a bus.
I would go a step further and suggest that whenever we deliberately do anything it is either to enjoy the activity or the end result, or to gain the benefits of the activity or end result, or some combination. That might sound obvious but being obvious, believed in, respected and considered are all different beasts.
During our waking hours we’re always doing something, even if that something is twiddling our thumbs. In business and in everyday life there will be dozens, if not hundreds, of activities each day that we undertake for a purpose other than personal enjoyment.
Hopefully, we know why we’re taking on these tasks but how often do we check that what we’re doing is moving us toward our goals? Potentially everything we do is another step towards awesome, but only if it’s in the right direction.
I’m not suggesting that we gather metrics and analyse performance for every email written or every sandwich eaten (but some people might want to…) but there should be a line in the sand, placed with intent and forethought. We can give ourselves permission to do certain things without subjecting our performance to analysis – and it can be a great big list. I suggest though that the default should be to develop and apply a system of analysis on anything not on that list. Emails, meetings, networking, blogging; tasks short, long, simple or complex should all be subject to the same rigorous application of post-activity analysis.
This all sounds like hard work and it can be. We could simply chose not to bother. But if a task is worth doing isn’t it worth checking to see if we did it well?
It’s easy to tick a box, to say “I’ve done this”.
It’s harder to make sure that you understand the purpose of a task, ensure it’s been fully decided and/or communicated to you before you even start.
It’s a mistake to do things without grokking the reasons for doing it. It’s also a wasted opportunity; it’s almost impossible to over-deliver when you don’t know where the goalposts are.
Next time that you’re indulging in box-ticking, spend a moment to think about what you could be doing instead.
(I’m posting this right now because I’m working on a book and I need a kick up the ass to make progress on it.)