A good friend sent me a text. “Jim, can we schedule a bi-weekly call for you to coach me? I have a lot on my plate and at times it can be overwhelming.” I am rarely surprised by such a request because I know exactly what they are feeling and experiencing—don’t you?
Most people I meet are like my friend—ambitious, loving of family and friends, passionate about the things that stir their soul, desiring to live with purpose and wanting to know that what they are doing is going to produce meaningful impact.
“It’s a dilemma,” he said. Dilemma is an interesting description. A dilemma is “a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially undesirable ones.”
When we hold passionate views about the many things we are doing the dilemma is having to say no to something. It’s not what we say is important, but trying to focus on everything at once. We try to juggle and balance all the demands until we realize we have lost our balance—nothing gets our best effort.
“Can you help,” he asked? Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Our chief want in life is find someone who will help us do what we can.” We all know deep down that we can do more and there is more that we want to do. Ah, back to the dilemma!
3 Strategies to Create Greater Impact
Strategy #1: Acceptance the truth about time.
Accept the fact you will never (ever, ever, ever) get everything you want to get done on any particular day. There always is and always will be something else to add to your list and people who will gladly make a few contributions to your list.
Strategy #2: Command the process of prioritizing.
Identify the three to five most important things you need to get done. These are the things that are going to make the greatest impact on your most important roles.
It is a process—break down large projects, assignments and commitments into manageable tasks you can complete in a defined period of time during the day and schedule them.
As I was coaching my friend he said something that could not be missed, “Up to now, I have been effective at bouncing in and out of the roles in my life. But now I can see I am not my most authentic and best self in any of my roles.”
People who fail to maximize their impact judge their daily success based on the number of items they check off. Exciting days are when they knock 19 of 20 off the list. But when you look at the one item left and ask, “Where would have place this item in terms of impact importance?” It is not uncommon to discover it was the most important item.
Strategy #3: Find the “Impact” item.
Identify the “Impact” item. This is the one thing you must get done today. It may be a project, meeting, conversation, phone call—just identify it. This is the one thing that represents the greatest impact opportunity. This is the one thing that makes the other 19 pail in comparison.
Do this first! Schedule it by blocking out the time on your calendar to focus on completing your “Impact” item. What you will find is getting this done created momentum that will fuel the rest of your day.
I slip in and out of this process. Maybe you do too. All we have to do is look at our current habits—they define our near-term future. Emerson was right, we do need someone who will make us do what we can which requires reminders and someone to come along side of us and help.