Which work matters?
The work that you will judged on when it comes to your annual review – that’s what work. The work that your bonus may be riding on.
Those half a dozen or less objectives you agreed with your boss will be the bottom line for you my friend.
Time to get selfish with a ‘Big S’. If you are in a connundrum about what work to do, where your priorities lie – just review your annual objectives. Which, of course means that sometimes, if you are being resolute and loyal to your goals, that something has to give, something won’t get done, or you’ll have to gracefully decline requests, tasks or interesting but ultimately none showstopping work.
The only time to prioritise is when you are deciding which work to take on in the first place. After that, it’s too late – it takes work to get rid of work.
Stop trying to do everything.
Be clear there are two types of everything.
1. Everything that comes at you during the course of a day. For instance, the digital hailstorm of information, data, other peoples crap or crap that you let yourself get sucked into in a moment of ill judgement. Stop trying to get all that done – because it’s impossible, exhausting, dumb, – it’s a never ending supply.
2. Everything that you have decided to do. (That you have agreed will matter and that you are being paid to make happen)
I have this conversation with busy executives at least once a month. Not because they are not smart or savvy or informed. Mainly it’s because they lose sight of what matters because they are human, fallible, and most honourably, but fatally, because they are trying to help everyone else before themselves.
Just think annual performance appraisal. Your boss might be enamoured if you have handled a lot of nice, interesting stuff – but standby if it’s as a consequence of you not delivering on your core objectives.
(Oh, and by the way, self preservation is good for the whole. If everyone selfishly delivered their core objectives… the business would be in outstanding shape.)