No matter what time of year it is, or what type of project you might be working on, or what operational challenge you are facing, one simple fact is true:
It is nice to go home at the end of the day with a sense of accomplishment.
Progress is our number one motivator. And staying motivated is one of the best strategies for making good use of our time.
Wouldn’t it feel good at the end of the day to have accomplished what you set out to do that day?
Wouldn’t it be fun to start delivering more results?
Wouldn’t you like to have a greater sense of satisfaction from all the work that you’re doing?
Well, I think you can. Because all you really need to do is gain a little clarity.
Get Clear About Exactly What Needs To Be Done
If you can get crystal clear on what you need to accomplish, a lot of other things will fall into place much more easily.
Before something hits your to-do list, insist that you know three things about the task.
#1 What is it, exactly, that you need to do?
Often, things that get to our to-do list start out at a meeting or in a hallway conversation or maybe over email. These exchanges don’t always amount to a real meeting of the minds.
You can clear this up by simply creating a definition of what it is you think you are agreeing to accomplish. Put that into the simplest and clearest terms. Then, confirm that your definition is correct–before you start working on it.
Next, be clear about who you are doing it for.
#2 Who, exactly, are you doing it for?
Your task has an audience, a benefactor, or someone else who is interested in the work being done well and on time. That might be the person with whom you just clarified the definition, but it might not.
Make sure you are clear about exactly who that is. Maybe it’s a committee or a boss or a customer or a coworker.
Whoever it is, be clear on who is going to receive the output of your work. Because once you know who that is, you can get additional clarity on the definition and additional information on what is going to be most useful to them.
This helps you to focus and not waste time on the wrong things or put things in the wrong format.
Once you know who you are delivering your work to, you can get clarity on what “done” looks like.
#3 What, exactly, does “done” looks like?
This is probably the most important and most overlooked step.
Yes, even though you just confirmed the “what” and the “who” you still need to confirm what “done” actually means.
Is it a report or a presentation? Will an email update suffice? Do I need to oversee the entire process or just the next step? How much detail should I include? How much research should I conduct? Should I loop in other people? Was this meant to be a quick hit or a bigger project? And the biggest question of all, what will it look like when it’s done?
You need to know what the finish line looks like before you start.
By knowing what you are going to do, who you are going to do it for, and what “done” looks like for everything you work on, you are in a position to really make progress on any given day.
Rather than spin your wheels wondering or worrying about a jumble of tasks, you have an organized and defined list.
From this list, you can decide which things you will do each day.
Your goal might be to start something. Or to advance one of the tasks. Maybe you will even push some things over the finish line.
Whatever the case, you can start the day by working toward these specific objectives. Which means you can end the day with a checklist of accomplishments.
Because you know what you are doing, who you are doing it for, and what the end result looks like, you can have a great deal of confidence that you are on the right track each and every day.