Doing The Right Things vs. Doing Everything

clock man

[This is a guest post by Steve Spring who is the author of Live Your Life On Purpose. Steve writes about how you can become more productive by knowing your purpose, having a plan, and using the most effective productivity tools and techniques. A former management consultant, Steve loves coffee, sailing, and being anywhere he can stick his toes in the ocean. He is a Christ-follower, husband, dad, and entrepreneur who loves his family, friends, and helping others achieve all that they were created to be. Check out Live Your Life On Purpose or find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. If you would like to guest post on my site, click here.]

Is your email inbox overflowing?

Do you suffer from information overload?

Do you find yourself getting distracted?

Do you procrastinate too much on important projects?

Do you multitask too often?

When you look back on your day are you disappointed by how little you have accomplished?

Most leaders struggle with one or more of these issues during their career. Maybe you are struggling with one or more of these issues right now.

If you are like most people, you turn to books or websites on time management hoping to find a way to get it all done. You think that if you find a new process, or system, or a new app you will be able to get it all done.

Why You Can’t Do It All

The truth is that you can’t get it all done. That is the problem. Your time is a finite resource. Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. You can’t manage your time, you can only manage yourself and your organization.

To be successful today, you need to make a paradigm shift from doing everything, to doing the right things.

Doing The Right Things Vs Doing Everything

Focusing on the right things means that you will need to make some difficult decisions on which projects and tasks that you organization will complete.

• This begins by determining your priorities based on your organization’s vision and values.
• Next you need to determine the “right things” based on these priorities.
• Plan the “right things” and put them on your calendar.
• Put everything else on your “someday list.”

The Pareto Principle suggests that working on the top 20% of your projects based on your organization’s vision and values will produce 80% of your results. By focusing on the right things, you will complete your key projects in less time, with less effort increasing both your efficiency and your effectiveness.

How To Focus On The Right Things

Use Your Vision – The organization’s vision is the key to determine the your overall priorities. You should use your organization’s vision to assess each project, and stop working on any project or projects that don’t fit with your organization’s vision.

Set Your Goals – An effective leader uses goals to develop an overall plan for the organization, and your goals should serve as milestones along the path to accomplishing your organization’s vision. Keep in mind that your goals should always be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and tracked over time.

Develop Your Plan – Create plans that will ensure that you will complete the projects that will achieve your organization’s goals. Make sure that these plans are realistic and that you are disciplined enough to complete them.

Communicate Your Priorities – Regular and effective communication is required to make sure that the everyone is focused on the projects that will make the largest impact on your organization’s success. This will require you to consistently communicate these priorities throughout the organization.

Review and Make Adjustments – Make sure to schedule time review your organization’s progress toward its goals. This should be done on a regular basis and will give you an opportunity to make any required adjustments to your plans

Nothing affects the bottom-line of an organization more than the time-effectiveness of its leader. It is the responsibility of the leader to determine the path that the organization will take, and to focus the organization’s time on completing the “right things.” The things that add the most value to the organization.

Question: What have you done to focus your organization on completing the “right things?”

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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17 thoughts on “Doing The Right Things vs. Doing Everything

  1. Good reminder. If the things done don’t add to the bottom line in all ways including quality then they’re the tools of the competition. Stream line is the name of the game in a new and tighter economy. Good call.

  2. Great post Steve. A lack of focus not only affects organizations but also keeps many from becoming fully supported by their dream. You’re right, there’s so much information out there and we want to try it all. We have to figure out what’s important right now.

    • Thanks Kimanzi! It today’s world there are too many things competing for our attention and if don’t keep the main thing, the main thing we will not succeed. They key is figuring out what your main thing should be. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Steve,
    “Do you suffer from information overload?”
    –> While I am not a leader (YET!) I’ve been consciously working on this for over a year. It’s going well, but still not quite where I want it to be.

    Do you have any special techniques/strategies that you use to overcome information overload?

    General question to everyone:
    –> How do you look on:
    1. Diversifying your company and overcoming familiarity bias when it comes to recruiting people?
    2. Delegation — How do you draw the line between what should be delegated and what you will do yourself?

  4. I am one of those people who sometimes is trapped in the idea of ‘doing everything’ as a way to improve.I guess it is the idealist persona in me who wishes for a perfect life.

    This year the organization techniques I’m looking forward to apply is the Pareto Principle, 13×4, GTD and Parkinson’s Law. I don’t know how it would work out but I think it can help me accomplish the “right things” as you said in the post, Steve.

    • I’m the same way. I constantly have to refocus on my top priorities. The Pareto Principle is such a helpful way to do that. Thank you for taking the time to read and add to the discussion.

  5. I have had to set times for myself to only do the work that I am supposed to do during the 2hrs a day where I need to Focus intently on my work. Also, I get up early to make sure the tasks I need to get done are accomplished. Thanks for sharing such a great message.

  6. You have some great ideas here. I think the point about finding priorities matters most. I’m always asking myself what I should be doing, what I should be focusing on and what’s most important at any given time. That keeps me focused and on task as much as possible. Plus I feel more productive. As long as I don’t spend too long trying to figure out what has the highest priority – that would probably defeat the purpose. I find organizing myself to do the right things is an ongoing process – I’m always making adjustments.