Sounds great. It’s backed by research. Let’s do it.
But, what is high-value work?
For some there’s the idea of eating the frog or, doing the toughest, most uncomfortable tasks first, to get them out of the way.
For others, high value work means diving into projects that require high levels of focus, concentration or a state of flow.
These two ideas dominate the productivity landscape.
But, work that is of high-value depends on your role. Most in the productivity scene would say that email or meetings for example, are not high-value activities.
And, they’d say that these are exactly the type of tasks that one should avoid first thing in the morning. If possible, I certainly do.
As a manager or leader, your highest-value work could very well be attending to email, facilitating communication, or rounding up the team for a check-in.
Your most important work, your highest-value work is the work that is most important to your team’s mission.
So, do your most important work first. Your job is to figure out what that is and don’t worry so much about the literature. Just worry about what’s best for your team.
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Monday. It’s the day we all love to dread. Garfield famously hates Mondays, and if you want to have some fun with Urban Dictionary definitions, Monday is either “the biggest waste of exactly one-seventh of your life” or “the reason Sundays suck.”
“Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the most accomplished people the world has ever known. He was not just brilliant, but prolific as well. Anyone who looked at him would probably assume that he was an unusually focused and disciplined man. Except that wasn’t the case. He spent around fifteen years developing the ideas for The Last Supper while he worked on a variety of other projects. He was criticised for being a dabbler…”
“Ah, to-do lists. The bane of our existence, the source of our stress and occasionally the symbol of our triumph. OK, I’m being a little dramatic–but those of us who’ve abided by this method of task-organisation have probably felt that sinking feeling when we realise we’ve barely made a dent in our list, and it’s the end of the work day.”
“The weight many people feel from all their excess possessions is similar to the overwhelm most people feel at work, too. Without quite realising how it got this bad, our days are bursting at the seams with emails, meetings, reports, and interruptions, leaving us tired at the end of the day and wondering what we actually accomplished.”
If an employee at your organization walked out with a brand-new laptop every day, you’d have him arrested, or at least fired… But when an employee demoralizes the entire team by undermining a project, or when a team member checks out and doesn’t pull his weight, or when a bully causes future stars to quit the organization — too often, we shrug and point out that this person has tenure, or vocational skills or isn’t so bad.
“Culture is like the wind. It is invisible, yet its effect can be seen and felt. When it is blowing in your direction, it makes for smooth sailing. When it is blowing against you, everything is more difficult.”
“The reason I lead with an open door is it is imperative to my success. If I don’t hear from every employee or the one’s that have something to say, then I don’t have a pulse on the way my company works. Whether it’s positive or negative, I need to know.”
“We’ve all been in situations in which we couldn’t wait for a slow-moving or overly cautious employee to take action. But at the other extreme, some employees have such a deep need to get things resolved that they move too quickly, or too intensely, and make a mess.”
“A happy worker is 12 percent more productive than the average employee and 22 percent more productive than the unhappy ones. Additionally, disengaged employees cost U.S. businesses up to $450 billion per year in lost productivity. The leader who fails to take these figures seriously places the longevity of their business at grave risk.”
Rewarding professional relationships are critical to your career and need to be nurtured as authentically as ties to friends and family. If you find yourself floating around solo on your jobs journey, there’s a good chance you may be doing it wrong.
“Science shows that swapping more substantive conversations for the same old vacuous small talk can help you be much happier. Which is why I’m always on the lookout for better ice breakers that the usual ‘What do you do?’ or ‘Did you catch the game on Saturday?”
“Hi. My name is Tyler, and I have mental health issues.” That’s a scary statement to hear/read, and believe me, it’s even more scary to say/write. How would you react if someone you didn’t know well said it to you?
Clinicians have long known that there is a strong link between sleep, sunlight and mood. Problems sleeping are often a warning sign or a cause of impending depression, and can make people with bipolar disorder manic.
“I sometimes write about how a good start to your day often leads to having a good day in general. A social, an energetic or a productive start sets the context for your day. But on some days you may not get a good start for some reason. Maybe you slept badly. Or the maybe grey skies and cold summer rain is dragging your energy down.”
You’re just getting started as a writer. Or you’ve been doing it your whole life. But you’ve never published a book. And you want to; you need to. You’re just not quite sure how to begin. What would it actually take?
When you move on from your current job, what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? It’s a tough question to answer, likely because you’ve never really thought about it before. You should though. And, here’s why.
So many of us make the mistake of letting our careers happen to us, rather than being proactive and making it happen for us. We look around at the successful people in our office and wrongly assume that they’re successful by chance, or that success comes with just putting in the time.
Whether you’re dedicated to a life-long career in the same company, moving from organisation to organisation trying to make a difference in something you care about or creating your own path solving problems as an entrepreneur, nothing comes easy and you’ll never reach your potential without a decent amount of forethought and effort.
So what can you do to give yourself the best chance of reaching your potential and being successful? Think about this.
In his book “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?”, Seth Godin makes the observation that bosses lie about what they want in an employee. They say they want someone who will be on time. Who will follow instruction. Someone who comes in and does their job and doesn’t make any trouble.
So, why is it that the people who follow these rules aren’t getting the promotions? Or more poignantly, why is it that the people getting promoted, the big stars of the show, aren’t the ones following these rules?
“The world no longer fairly compensates people who are cogs in a giant machine” – Seth Godin
It’s because what she really wants is someone who can think for them-self. Who sees possibilities and makes them happen. Who creates. Who connects the dots. Who sets the shit on fire (what ever that means).
She wants someone remarkable – who is worth remarking about. Someone who is exceptional – who is the exception. Someone who disrupts, creates, collaborates, leads et cetera. Being even one of these things would leave a great legacy.
So, how do you become more remarkable? Exceptional? How do you become indispensable?
First, follow these two steps:
Answer this question: If your organisation wanted to replace you with someone far better at your job than you, what would they look for?
Become the answer. Read, learn, work hard and become the person who is far better at your job than you currently are.
Then, do all of these things:
Become a connector. Make a habit out of introducing people who will get value from each other both inside and outside your organisation.
Pick one new person every week and buy them a coffee. Sit with them. Drink coffee together. Don’t talk about work. Ask lots of questions. Listen.
Write something inspiring for your company blog and submit it to be published. It will likely draw the attention of your superiors, so make sure it’s good.
Think of one new, properly thought-out idea every month, that solves a real problem faced by your organisation and tell your boss about it. Be ready to produce a brief outline and project plan and make sure your idea has the potential to make a real impact, like increase productivity or save money. It’s not that hard, it’s only twelve ideas a year.
Grab with both hands and all your strength every learning opportunity you find.
Everyone makes mistakes, but what separates the successful from the unsuccessful is the ability to deal with them positively. In fact, the truly successful don’t just deal with mistakes, they embrace them and learn from them.
Use this four step process to embrace and learn from your mistakes.
1. Recognise it
In many ways this is the most important step. After all, how can you learn from your mistakes if you don’t know you’re making them?
To recognise mistakes, you need a keen sense of self-awareness which let’s be honest, not many of us have. So, now’s the time to start working on it.
Paul Jun, author of Connect the Dots says that self-awareness is the “condition of being constantly aware of your thoughts, beliefs, emotions and actions.” Follow Paul’s lead and practice these habits to become more self-aware:
Self-analysis. “Self-analysis is a stepping stone to become aware of your strengths and weaknesses, bad habits, opportunities seized or missed, and things you said or didn’t say.”
Acknowledgement. “You have to admit to yourself that you are obviously not perfect – no one is.” Once you do this, you will start to master yourself.
Paying attention to the details. Especially your emotions. “In a situation where you’re angry or frustrated … pay close attention to your emotions and thoughts when they arise.
Ask yourself: What is the difference between these emotions and what needs to get done? Let this shed light on where you should invest your energy.” As this becomes a habit “you unlearn the habit of doing something ineffective such as yelling and complaining…”
Daily Practice. Paul says “practicing self-awareness can be the start of living life the way it was intended for you to live.”
“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them” – Bruce Lee
2. Own it
Mistakes are made everyday and they are never nobody’s fault.
At first glance, passing the blame can seem like an attractive option and you may very well get away with it. But, if you don’t the fall out will be way more than you bargained for.
Firstly, if after claiming your innocence you later admit to the mistake or worse, are found out, you will lose people’s trust. You will be known as a liar and a cheat. Your relationships and possibly your career could be put at risk. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Secondly, if we don’t own our mistakes we can’t learn from them. From birth, our knowledge, abilities and judgement are developed through the process of learning from our mistakes. From trial and error. At the end of the day, that’s what this process is all about so put your big boy pants on and own up!
3. Learn from it
Studies on the science of learning show that we are more likely to learn in an environment where we feel it’s OK to make mistakes.
To get the most out of our mistakes, featured LifeHack expert and author Paul Sloane, encourages us to look on the bright side and ask ourselves these questions:
What can I learn from this? There is a learning opportunity in every mistake and failure. Paul says “try to look at the experience objectively. Make a list of the key things that happened. Analyze the list step-by-step and look for the learning points.”
What could I have done differently? You know the old saying about hindsight being 20/20, well now’s the time to put it into action. Paul says to ask “what other options did you have? What choices did you make? How could you have handled it differently? With the benefit of hindsight, what different steps would you have taken?”
Do I need to acquire or improve some skills? We should all do a bit of a skills audit every now and then, and post-mistake is the perfect time to figure out what you should work on. Paul suggests starting with “books or courses or people you could turn to. Make a self-development plan to acquire the skills and experiences you need.”
Who can I learn from? At some point or another we all need the inspiration, guidance and help of role models, mentors and supportive friends. Is there someone you know that you can turn to? Paul says “if they are constructive and supportive, then ask them for some feedback and guidance.”
What will I do next? Think of your mistake as a “diversion rather than a halt” to your journey. Draw up an action plan and get on with the business of being successful. You’re the only one standing in your way.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana
4. Move on
There is no exact science when it comes to getting over things. From feelings of loss and grief to feelings of inadequacy or a loss of confidence, moving on is difficult under most circumstances.
If you’re struggling just remember that people out there in the world are moving on from their losses, failures and mistakes everyday. Therefore, it’s not impossible. If they’re doing it, you can too!
Try these tips for moving on:
Forget about it!
Not the lessons you’ve learned, but the fact that it happened in the first place. This takes a little bit of mental toughness or a ‘shooter’s mentality’ but it can be done.
If you’ve gone through all the steps above, there is no reason to keep letting your mistake hold you back. Let it go!
Do it again!
Practice makes perfect. So, what better way to prove you can be trusted than showing you’ve learned from your mistakes and can now do what ever it was you got wrong as good, if not better than anyone else.
Become an expert at it!
Read. Research. Talk about it with experts. What ever it is, you can learn what others know and never have to worry about repeating your mistakes.
Do you have any tips for dealing with mistakes? Sharing is caring so please share them in the comments box below.