Every day as a leader you have to cut through the fog and noise of the immediate to keep things focused on what matters most. There is no place where that challenge is more important than in managing the tasks and priorities swimming in your head.
Trust me, I understand. I am wired to see and want to accomplish the 17 things I think are important right now. And, when I achieve some modicum of success on those, my juices get flowing and I start thinking “carpe diem,” seize the momentum and bring up those 37 other things I have been ruminating on. Bad idea.
To that end, I offer this simple discipline: Identify the ONE THING. In every situation, every day, identify the one thing that matters most right now. And do that.
Of all the things on your “to do list,” ask yourself, “what is the one thing that will make the biggest difference today?” If your plans for the day collapse because of some unforeseen crisis, what is the one thing that is non-negotiable?
Do the same thing in planning your week and your month. Ask yourself, “what is the one thing I can or should do that will move the ball furthest down the field?”
For every appointment, identify the one thing that is most important for you to address, contribute, leave behind, celebrate, etc.?
For every meeting, what is the one thing you want every participant to walk away with?
For every presentation, what is the one message, insight, action point, principle, etc. that you are going to talk about?
It is simple. Simple to understand, but a courageously contrary discipline to execute. I dare you to try it. Instead of fixating on how to get more done, focus on the one thing that will bring strategic progress in this moment and do that thing.
#1: Momentum. If you do this consistently I believe you will find that every day, every meeting, every communique will find these incremental steps add up to significant momentum. And, momentum is exciting.
#2: Impact. The depth of our impact is directly proportional to the narrowness of our focus. The broader your focus the more you dissipate impact. So, imagine that every conversation, every day, every week had greater impact. How good would that be?
What’s your one thing for today?
FYI. For a future post: “How to approach the one thing question for your life.”