How to Stay Focused on Creating Value

It’s Friday — Accomplish Just One Thing Today…

stay_focused
How to Stay Focused on Creating Value

Are you generally proud of what you have accomplished at the end of the workday? Have you ever written down what you do every day? And what about Friday, do you just start planning for the weekend at the beach and figure that Mondays are better days for getting stuff done?

This is important to ponder because an individual is defined by her actions and an organization is a sum of the actions that its employees take. I have been thinking a lot about what makes a person and company successful while building Aha!

Clearly, early on a company lives and dies by the decisions the founders make and the priorities they set. Small teams have lots of energy, but a limited resource base to source that energy from. There is no one to pick up the slack and every decision has an significant opportunity cost.

So, I judge every day in a binary way — did I incrementally add to the value of the company or didn’t I. I feel accomplished when I and the team step forward and eager for the next day when we don’t. I think this simple gut check makes life easier for anyone and keeps folks focused on what matters. Keep putting your nose into the wind and driving forward — even on Fridays — which represent 20% of the traditional workweek.

You might argue that there are different levels of value creation, and that is absolutely true. The key is to focus on the actions that result in achievement and not just activity. But ultimately, creating the habit of generating positive momentum is what matters and the successes themselves become more valuable over time for your career and the companies that you work for.

Every person has a unique approach. The following are five things I try to do on a daily basis. Think of them as imperatives to meet the goal of creating daily value. I readily admit that I often fail to deliver on these promises, but nonetheless they guide me.

#1 Complete at least one meaningful task
That sounds simple, right? Just complete one thing that makes a difference. I am not talking about sending another email or making a sales call. I am talking about completing a blog post, helping a customer solve a problem, meeting with a channel partner, closing the books for the quarter, defining the next product release. You get the idea. I keep a list of the bigger tasks that I need to do and try to check at least one off every day.

#2 Be conscious of ideas
Ideas are fleeting. We all have lots of good ones and bad ones, but we often do not stop to consider our thoughts. Ideas often come from pondering a new situation or problem. When I have a new idea, I ponder it and throw it around (if you ever see me looking up towards the sky, that’s what I am doing). If it passes my counter-arguments, I write it down and want to discuss it. Rather than fearing it for being fresh and unproven, I love it’s potential.

#3 Discuss a new idea with one person
I am guessing that 80% of the internal company meetings that I had over the last few years were useless. So, I seek fewer meetings. I try to pour my energy into the new ideas because I know the other tasks will get done. I think about #2 above and take that idea and roll it past someone else. And I try to listen carefully when someone else is talking about her new idea. I remind myself to assume it can be done, and focus first on would it be useful and would it create a small win? If the answer is yes, then I try to figure out how it can be done.

#4 Have a point-of-view
I typically have a point-of-view because otherwise it’s hard to vet new ideas and even harder to prioritize tasks. I typically think I am right too and some might celebrate that as confidence and others might consider it arrogance. Sometimes my points-of-view are too strong and keep me from being great at #3, so I try to listen first and ignore my judgmental internal voice. Whatever you do, have conviction, bring your own perspective to the business. Great achievers have a vision. Don’t start every conversation by asking the other person what he thinks.

#5 Respect everyone
It’s very easy to treat people with respect if you set your mind to it — even if they are knuckleheads. There generally is something that you can find to admire about every person and it is possible to focus on that. However, I never confuse like and respect. It’s true, there are nasties in every office. But, they deserve to be treated with respect and heard out. Because every so often, it’s the crazy guy who has the best new ideas.

So, while Friday may seem like a warm-up for the weekend, I suggest that you treat it with a sense of urgency. It’s the last chance for many of us to have an impact before the weekend and the new week wash over us.

What are you going to accomplish today? Please share your thoughts on how you stay focused on Fridays and what motivates you to keep going at the end of a tiring week

This is important to ponder because an individual is defined by her actions and an organization is a sum of the actions that its employees take. I have been thinking a lot about what makes a person and company successful while building Aha!

Clearly, early on a company lives and dies by the decisions the founders make and the priorities they set. Small teams have lots of energy, but a limited resource base to source that energy from. There is no one to pick up the slack and every decision has an significant opportunity cost.

So, I judge every day in a binary way — did I incrementally add to the value of the company or didn’t I. I feel accomplished when I and the team step forward and eager for the next day when we don’t. I think this simple gut check makes life easier for anyone and keeps folks focused on what matters. Keep putting your nose into the wind and driving forward — even on Fridays — which represent 20% of the traditional workweek. You might argue that there are different levels of value creation, and that is absolutely true. The key is to focus on the actions that result in achievement and not just activity. But ultimately, creating the habit of generating positive momentum is what matters and the successes themselves become more valuable over time for your career and the companies that you work for.

Every person has a unique approach. The following are five things I try to do on a daily basis. Think of them as imperatives to meet the goal of creating daily value. I readily admit that I often fail to deliver on these promises, but nonetheless they guide me.

#1 Complete at least one meaningful task That sounds simple, right? Just complete one thing that makes a difference. I am not talking about sending another email or making a sales call. I am talking about completing a blog post, helping a customer solve a problem, meeting with a channel partner, closing the books for the quarter, defining the next product release. You get the idea. I keep a list of the bigger tasks that I need to do and try to check at least one off every day. #2 Be conscious of ideas Ideas are fleeting. We all have lots of good ones and bad ones, but we often do not stop to consider our thoughts. Ideas often come from pondering a new situation or problem. When I have a new idea, I ponder it and throw it around (if you ever see me looking up towards the sky, that’s what I am doing). If it passes my counter-arguments, I write it down and want to discuss it. Rather than fearing it for being fresh and unproven, I love it’s potential. #3 Discuss a new idea with one person I am guessing that 80% of the internal company meetings that I had over the last few years were useless. So, I seek fewer meetings. I try to pour my energy into the new ideas because I know the other tasks will get done. I think about #2 above and take that idea and roll it past someone else. And I try to listen carefully when someone else is talking about her new idea. I remind myself to assume it can be done, and focus first on would it be useful and would it create a small win? If the answer is yes, then I try to figure out how it can be done. #4 Have a point-of-view I typically have a point-of-view because otherwise it’s hard to vet new ideas and even harder to prioritize tasks. I typically think I am right too and some might celebrate that as confidence and others might consider it arrogance. Sometimes my points-of-view are too strong and keep me from being great at #3, so I try to listen first and ignore my judgmental internal voice. Whatever you do, have conviction, bring your own perspective to the business. Great achievers have a vision. Don’t start every conversation by asking the other person what he thinks. #5 Respect everyone It’s very easy to treat people with respect if you set your mind to it — even if they are knuckleheads. There generally is something that you can find to admire about every person and it is possible to focus on that. However, I never confuse like and respect. It’s true, there are nasties in every office. But, they deserve to be treated with respect and heard out. Because every so often, it’s the crazy guy who has the best new ideas.

So, while Friday may seem like a warm-up for the weekend, I suggest that you treat it with a sense of urgency. It’s the last chance for many of us to have an impact before the weekend and the new week wash over us.

What are you going to accomplish today? Please share your thoughts on how you stay focused on Fridays and what motivates you to keep going at the end of a tiring week.

 

 

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