Too much to do

Hi. This is Cyril from Work Smarter, Live Better.

In this video, I want to challenge your way of thinking about prioritization.

All the corporates, all the leaders that I had the pleasure to work with say the same thing: “Cyril, I’ve got too much to do: too many emails, too many meetings, too much tasks. And I feel completely swamped.”

We do a simple exercise when we work with a team. We ask them to take a typical week, if that exists. We ask them to take a typical week, and we look at the number of things they have to do. You take one of your week, and you look at how much time do I need to dedicate to my long-term priorities?. How much time should I dedicate to my emails? How much time should I dedicate to all the ongoing commitments that I have, the meetings I have to go to? How much time do I need to dedicate to crisis and others? We’re trying to map out everything that you do and the amount of time that you need to commit to do it all.

And then we ask how much time you have available: what time you arrive at work, what time do you leave.

And so we can calculate two things: the time needed and the time available. Then we compare.. And they cry…

People cry because their time needed is always much bigger than their time available. I can guarantee, every time I have done this exercise, your to-do list is much bigger than your time available.

My advice on this one is the most important step there and the hardest step of prioritization: decide what not to do.

Many people think that prioritization is about deciding what they’re doing. One of the most important thing when you prioritize is deciding what you’re not going to do, looking at your list and saying I’m not going to do this.

You need to prioritize because of impact. You check what will have the most impact and this is what should be prioritized first.

Peter Drucker, one of the gurus of leadership, had this beautiful expression. “The key of strategy is omission”. The key of strategy is not only what you decide to do but as importantly, if not more, what you decide not to do.

Look at everything you have to do. Prioritize by impact, not by urgency, and make some tough decision. Super stressful to do. I do this exercise every week. Every week, I look at my to-do list, I look at my time available for next week, I cry. I then make some tough choices and decide what not to do. This very hard and very stressful. But after that, I feel much more in control. I have made the tough choices, and then I can execute for the rest of the week.

This is the Work Smarter, Live Better tip for this week. I hope you enjoy it. It’s a super important principle, easy to understand, not always easy to implement, so try it. See how you go.

Hope you have a lovely day.

Until next time, take care.

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