Are You Progressing… in the Wrong Direction?

Running a business, being a leader, requires a lot of energy.

And sometimes, the demands of the day pull us in the direction that it dictates.

Next thing you know, you find yourself with an ever-expanding task list, constantly short on time, forever exhausted, and the busyness of running a business has caught you in its web.

I'm not saying that you're not working hard. You're working very, very hard.

But you're working hard on the wrong things and you're headed in the wrong direction.

And, in a few months, maybe a year or two even, you'll realize that you keep getting farther and farther away from your goals.

So what can you do to get out of this busyness web?

Stop and Re-Evaluate Your Priorities

The first thing you can do is to stop for a moment. Hit that virtual pause button. Stop and reevaluate your priorities.

When doing so, ask yourself:

What area of the business needs your attention the most this quarter?

That's going to change. It's going to be fluid. For sure, we don't want to be stuck in goals that no longer serve us. But we also want to make sure that as we're working and we're putting in all that effort, that we're working toward something that will best serve us.

What goals and metrics will you set to measure your success in that area?

There are times when we could just keep going, and going, and going. But do you have a measure of when it is done? When is it good enough that we can move on to something else, focus on something else?

By having those very specific metrics, at least we can objectively say this is when we are done. Now we can move on to other things or at least it's at a certain point where we can step away from this for a little bit to focus on something else.

Also, having those metrics in place help us measure progress.

What activities must happen this month to meet this quarter’s goals?

Setting up the monthly goals helps provide us with a good overview. If you just look at the goals for the quarter and you don't set up the monthly goals, then you may end up having too much in a certain month and not enough in another. Or it might not be a realistic progression.

Then build out:

  1. What activities must happen this week to get this month's activities completed?
  2. And what activities must happen today to get this week's activities completed?

Once you have that, then you're very clear on how you're feeding into the bigger goals. And so that helps to be more focused and ensure that all of the efforts that you're putting in are on the right things.

Keep These Priorities and Goals Visible

What is also very helpful is to keep the priorities and goals visible.

I have a cork board where I keep the long-term vision visible and the goals for the year, broken down by quarter and month.

Having this visible reminds us of where we are headed. When you find yourself running short on time and constantly rushing everywhere, then you can stop and quickly check: “What's what am I supposed to be working towards?” And then you look at that board. “Okay, here are the goals.

Here are the reminders. Here's what I'm supposed to be doing.” And it refocuses you. It resets you to what is important and what you're supposed to be focusing on. Especially when faced with competing priorities and we have to determine which will be addressed first because we can't do everything all at once. Or at least determine the ones we are going to do first and move forward enough so that we can move on to the next thing.

Review Your Task List

When reviewing your task tracking tool, ask yourself:

  • whether the task helps move the above activities forward to completion. If it's a yes, block it in your schedule. If it’s a no, then ask yourself if you can push back the deadline.
  • whether you can delegate it. If yes, do so. If not, is it because you're not comfortable delegating or does it really need to be you?

Work on What Really Matters

By applying these, you are more likely to untangle yourself and focus the energy and effort on the difference makers. On the activities that make up the milestones leading to the bigger goals and vision and mission.

And, then, you’ll know you’re only working on what really matters, moving you away from busyness toward productivity. It’s the same amount of energy, only now it’s progressing in the right direction.


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