One great project, one successful quarter, or one new innovation is usually not enough for a fulfilling, meaningful, and successful career. Even more important than these ‘big wins’ are the small actions you take on a day-to-day basis.
To align your daily activities with your big picture goals takes vision and planning. Gordon D’Angelo, co-founder of Jackson Hewitt Tax Service and author of Vision: Your Pathway to Victory writes in his new book, “You have to begin with the end result. What is your definable intention? Then you make the preparation to get there.” Once you have formed a strategy or set a direction for a long-term goal, it is time to do the arguably more important and more difficult task of following through.
Notice how intentional that sounds. In contrast, when you have nothing directing your focus, your attention disperses equally toward all incoming tasks and you get taken hostage by the most recent distraction. This creates a vicious cycle of getting caught up in trivial tasks and losing perspective of what really matters.
Write down your three most important tasks at work. If you aren’t clear on what they are, it is difficult if not impossible to reach your goals, deliver value in your role, and fulfill expectations set for you other than by accident. Knowing the top three reasons why you are paid for the job you have helps you immediately do your job better, finish work sooner, and get great results quicker.
Next, post these three priorities up where you can see them. Vagueness is not motivating, but a consistent reminder about your priorities creates focus, momentum, and vision. If these are not at the top of your mind when you begin your day, you’re much more likely to waste time, be less productive, and deliver mediocre results.
Being busy does not equate to being productive nor does it mean you are delivering value. Stop reacting to the work people throw at you. Become proactive about your daily activities. What are the activities and tasks that--done consistently--will, over time, take you to your goals? That is the work to fit in to your busy schedule and organize the rest of your day around.