Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Little Things

The problems with only focusing on the big things, is you never get to the little things. They are never important enough. But they niggle and they gnaw. A friend of mine who has been a very successful businessman said his goal with the little things was to never give them more time than they deserved. The best way to do this was to do them straight away, not to put them off. Another friend said she started her day with three little task. Ideally in the first hour of the day she would be able to say she had got something done. If she was being very diligent, she would right them down on a list for those moments when you wonder if you are no further forward than you were a week, month, or year ago.

Another way to handle the 'less important stuff' is to delegate. I have a big problem with delegation. Not that I can't do it, but that I think there is an implicit message in delegation which sometimes causes problems. When you say, 'Can you do this, I don't have time', you are also saying, 'I have a list of priorities and this is not high enough up on the list, can you put it to the top of yours.' Delegation can be a power play. A statement that you are above a task.

It is different if the task is delegated as a learning mechanism. But I think this is often a cop out. Learning curves are often quite steep and then flatten out. If you are still delegating a task to someone when they are already very capable at it, then you are back to power games. The best leaders I have known are the ones who role their sleeves up and get stuck in alongside the people they are working with. There are some things that can't be communicated up

Make your own tea, for example. Obviously when you are busy, it seems like 'n las (a burden). Making for a few other people when you need to get a few moments away from the desk buys you a few free cups later. Write your own emails. Put your own presentations together. Cook your own dinner from scratch at least occasionally. Dishes. Bed. Rubbish. Dusting. Shopping. Don't ask other people to do tasks you aren't prepared to do yourself at least every now and then.

If you constantly delegate because other things are more important, you can end up losing 'competence at life'. The truth is, if you don't make time for the little things, the big things will swallow you whole.

Never be too big to make tea

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