Think of it like Jazz. There are a million notes you could play, but removing the notes that don’t need to be played will give the ones you do play more impact. No? Too metaphorical? Okay, try this on for size then.
When you take the time to think through your near future and what you need to accomplish, let’s say, a week of work, you begin to identify leverage-tasks. Tasks, if done first, can make other tasks on your list irrelevant and unnecessary. Often you’ll find that one important task done today equals a few tasks that don’t have to be done tomorrow.
Here are a few ways to gather your thoughts and find those leverage tasks.
- Make to-do lists and organize by the importance of the task. Then, look for tasks that, if done first, would remove other tasks further down the list.
- Not a list type? Try a quadrant approach. Visuals on a piece of paper that has been divided into 4 squares. You can fold a piece of legal paper in ½ twice to make this easy. The top left corner is your “urgent and important” section. The top right corner is your “important, but not urgent” section. The bottom left is urgent but not important,” and the bottom right is, you guessed it, not important and not urgent. You should be suspect of anything in this lower right quadrant and examine why it’s on your list at all. Maybe it’s just a “keep the lights” on task, or favor being called in. But at the very least, prune this collection as best you can and avoid a bad LOE (Level of Effort) to ROI (Return on Investment) ratio.
- Start a journal. This can help you to get thoughts on paper and into a physical space, making it easier to organize and game plan the approaches to each task.