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Tomorrow is Here

September 11, 2013

To Do List

It’s quite natural to move important items from today’s To Do List onto tomorrow’s in favor of urgent needs that are directly in front of us.  The downfall happens when tomorrow never comes  and those important tasks keep getting delayed.

Today is the day to stop putting off some of the most impactful items on your list.  True, they may be uncomfortable (like having that conversation with a previous top performer who has been dropping the ball) or seem like a luxury (like finding ways to keep your skills current), yet these investments can begin to payback much sooner than you might think.  Within tomorrow’s tasks, you can find solutions that buy you more time and reduce unproductive stress.

Put another way, these items commonly considered ‘nice to haves’ are actually foundational requirements that are necessary to keep ourselves, our teams and the companies we work for growing strong.   Quite often, the time spent thinking about these items takes up more time than just completing them in the first place.  Below is an example of a dialogue with an individual coaching client who is caught in a reactive environment and stressed to the max.

Coach:  It sounds like you are frustrated with having no control over your day.  That makes sense as anyone in your shoes would feel that way.  How might you be contributing to the situation?

Client:  I don’t think I am.  I mean, I don’t have a choice.

Coach:  It’s certainly understandable that you feel that way, however we always have a choice.  What important items have you been choosing to put off that could improve the situation?

Client: (insert pause here.  Note:  The answer comes right away; the pause is typically because it’s difficult to say it out loud).  I’ve been putting off a conversation with one of my team members, Mitch.  He used to be the cream of the crop and he’s been under-performing. I’ve had to pick up many of the balls that he has been dropping and it’s been taking a lot of my time to fix his work product and mend fences along the way. 

Coach:  Let me make sure I understand what you are saying, instead of having a conversation to correct the situation; you have been doing his work?

Client:  Uh…well, hearing that fed back to me makes it sound ridiculous, yet that is what I’ve been doing.

Coach:  What might be going on with Mitch? 

Client:  Well, he could be overworked, he could be having personal issues, he could be disheartened because he didn’t get a promotion he recently went after, he could be in reaction mode just like I am, he could…

Coach:  Clearly, there are a number of things that could be getting in the way.  It sounds like you really care for Mitch, how might you be able to determine what is driving his behavior and find ways to support him more directly?

Client:  I just need to talk to him.  He’s been trying to get a hold of me but I’ve been so frustrated and busy that I’ve been putting him off. 

Coach:  How long will the conversation take?

Client:  Probably less than an hour.

Coach:  What benefit might come out of the conversation?

Client:  Well, once I understand the issue, the corrective actions can begin.  Ideally, I’ll get rid of the extra work I took on so that I can focus on other important initiatives.  Oh, and I’ll be able to get out of the office at a reasonable time so that I can spend time with my family and friends.

Coach:  What else?

Client:  I can demonstrate my leadership abilities by supporting Mitch to get back on track.

In situations like this, the benefits are usually plentiful, yet it does take a conscious effort to determine what they are and to take action toward realization.  The urgent response, although sometimes necessary, is not always the best way forward.

What tasks have you been putting off until tomorrow that will reduce the urgencies of today?

Forward Moving Tips:

  1. Carve out some time on your calendar TODAY to progress or complete an important task.
  2. Use the pull of the resulting benefit to get you through the initial resistance.
  3. After completion, take a moment to breathe in your accomplishment.  Well done!
  4. Don’t stop here.  Keep moving forward using the lessons you’ve learned.

© Viage Partners 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Viage Partners with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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