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Time management starts and ends with picking the most important things you will do in any given day. Making the choice to focus on the most rewarding activities is a critical element of a fulfilled and satisfied life. This intentional commitment to do the things that matter most, necessarily means deciding not to do things that are less impacting. This choice not only helps maximize satisfaction in your personal life but ensures the health and well-being of your professional endeavors, as well.
In life, as in business, resources are precious. Time, energy, space and money are finite, and often exist in diminishing supply. It is incumbent upon each of us to use our resources to the greatest effect.
At home, this may mean spending less time in front of the television and more time in the yard raking leaves, shoveling snow or planting grass. In our personal relationships, we make choices about who we see – making sure that the time we spend in fellowship fills our hearts and replenishes our spiritual energy.
At work, it means identifying the activities that are critical to the advancement of the stated mission of whichever enterprise you serve. That part is not terribly difficult. The difficulty lies within the pile of things that are left to do after you’ve picked your priorities.
This is where breaking up comes in. Bear with me, this won’t be easy, but it is absolutely essential to scale, survival and success. Dig through that pile. One by one, decide if each relationship, task or event is worthy of your attention, acknowledging each time that it will distract you from the prerogatives you’ve just identified.
Create a stack of things you will stop doing immediately. Be cautious not to become sentimental, guilty or wishy-washy about the items in this pile. Your decision to prioritize and focus your attentions on the matters of greatest importance is good for business. Doing things beyond your commitment simply puts everything you’re doing at risk. Most certainly, any attempt to be all things to all people ends in your having been mediocre or worse to each of them. Know this and let it guide you.
Now, with piles created and commitments made, create a break-up strategy. Some of the breakups will be harder than others; they will involve people or things you care deeply about. Remember, though, you have decided definitively, intellectually and importantly that doing these things will keep you from being great.
Create a break-up strategy for each of the items in your “I can’t do this anymore” pile and get to work. You will be amazed at the freedom you feel and heights you will achieve once you’ve cleared your plate and mind from the items that have diluted your focus and depleted your resources.
The TechTown team has spent the past year taking our entire organization through this process, business unit by business unit, task by task. We have a team of professionals focused on creating an extraordinary economic impact in the city we love so much; so saying no to anyone is difficult. Difficult, yet critical. Difficult because we want to help everyone we meet. Critical because we can’t help everyone we meet and survive as an incubator. Therefore, our ability to say no is intrinsically tied to our ability to continue to make magic in Detroit.
We had to admit to ourselves that we could not be all things to all people. We had to recognize that finite resources require protection and strategic deployment. We had to stop doing things about which we cared deeply and that hurt. However, doing so has helped us grow and thrive. Today, we’re grateful for the road we traveled to fine tune our focus, but warn, it wasn’t always easy and it won’t be for you.
But, remember, failure to quit doing the things that distract us from our core mission, effectively ensures we fail at all things; and for any of us, failure is not an option.