Not sure I have ever put the words “competitive edge” in the same sentence where I mention dropping things, but, in this instance, I think it is really valid.
One of the ways we get to that holy grail of the competitive edge is by doing the most important things when they need to be done, and doing them really well. But easy to say and not so easy to do!
In my executive coaching business I get to work with a lot of really high performers, which is a great honor, who really do have that competitive edge, but these same people are always challenged by having too much to do, and not enough time to do it.
Do you recognize this problem? Of course, you do and I do not think there is a person alive (I mean really alive!) that is not challenged similarly.
So, how do you deal with this continuous overload? What do you do when you have really worked hard at planning your priorities, scheduling time to deal with all the items on your to do list, and then things don’t happen exactly as you had planned and at the end of the day, you have a couple of items that you had scheduled to complete, but you just never got to them? How frustrating is that!!
Recognize this? Of course, you do. So, then what do you do? Simple, just add it to your new to do list! Okay, but then what happens? Now, your to do list is getting longer and longer and instead of feeling on top of things, you start experiencing overwhelm! Not ideal for the one seeking that competitive edge!
So, what to do? Well, I borrowed this idea from Peter Bregman, author of 18 Minutes, and I have found that it works really well. He developed a 3Day Rule which I think is brilliant. It goes like this:
After you fill your schedule for the day, you look at what is still left on your to do list. If those items only got added that day or the day before, then they stay on the list. But for anything that is on the list for 3 days you do the following:
- Do it right there and then. How often do we carry something that only takes a few minutes from one day to the next. Perhaps it is a call we don’t want to make or an email to send that we have been avoiding.. If I am not going to do it there and then, I do the next best thing.
- Put it in my schedule. I find a time in my diary where I make an appointment with myself to do it. It matters not when that may be, but I get it off the to do list and it is now an appointment. If that is not a runner, I do the following.
- I let it go. In other words, I face up to the fact while I would like it to be important, if it is still here it is probably not and I just drop it from the list altogether. If I am not prepared to do it now and I am not prepared to schedule it, it really is not a priority in my world. However, if I am so emotionally connected to the item, and just cannot let it go, I put it in the following place.
- My “someday honey” list. This is a list that I truthfully will probably never get around to but I like having it. I do not have the moral courage to simply tell myself I am not doing that item and discard it. By putting it on my “someday honey” list I have the comfort that the item is still captured somewhere. Deluding yourself? Of course it is, but it makes you feel better – and no one gets hurt!!