Author - MissUnderstood Genius
Doesn't this cartoon strip remind us of our everyday? Hell no!! I am not going to bore you to death with my story of the day. But, this cartoon surely urges me to help Mr. Rat create a To-Do list to prioritise his work. Because I am a to-do list kinda-girl.
I usually have a to do list which is never in any priority order of importance as I often receive so many directives from middle management, I feel more like a gopher than a manager, and it can get the best of you when your list defines you! Because having a To-Do list is something that allows you to clear the clutter and focus on what the true value at stake is.
But, I think we all know that daily to-do lists are self-defeating, AND it's hard to give up the practice, isn't it? :-) I trust that we keep a kind of mental compass which always points towards our goals and not just the tasks. However, this is easier said than done and separates the leaders from the managers.
And then I started to observe my senior manager – how he was able to cope in similar or rather more complex situations like mine. He remembers who his constituents are, eliminates the unnecessary, prioritises, delegates, and communicates a clear purpose. All things even experienced leaders need to revisit periodically (I know I do).
And then it dawned upon me – I find it difficult to delegate anything off my own list as I consider them as MY TASKS. It's always good to get some thought-provoking ideas. Breaking it up in this fashion would really help prioritise things and help you delegate as a leader.
It's easy to quickly get lost in the trees if you don't have the vision and discipline to look beyond the forest. This applies to everyone in a leadership role. Without clear and concise direction, everyone is left running around with their heads cutoff, the famous "headless chicken syndrome". The task of leadership must by necessity include a lot of delegation. Letting go and letting others do the jobs they can do takes a lot of the stress off, and enables clearer thinking for the leaders, which in turn benefits all.
Separating our goals from our to-do list is a great concept, not always easy to do given time restraints which we all face but we cannot afford not to do it! Sometimes our goals can get lost amongst the never ending to-do list. Achieving our goals and being recognised for our focus and "delivery" is great motivation for us. I love the idea of a "line of sight" as when we can see where we fit in the chain and how our contribution makes a difference, it encourages commitment and a winning attitude.
Leading - defining priorities, setting goals, and empowering our team to get it done - is why we have leaders. We need to group "To-Do" into Employees, Shareholders, or Customers. I constantly ask how am I able to do other initiatives apart from regular work. My view is pretty similar - List, Prioritise, Delegate What can be done by others, Focus on Must Have in the list which needs to be done by me and last but not least, I ensure we all agreed to closure. :)
And often the most effective approach is the simplest like focusing on just 3 things, for escaping the tyranny of the "to-do" list!
Keep the right perspective - dump the peripheral clutter, energise yourself and others around you to maintain momentum and above all - keep it simple, one task at a time, if possible. To-Do Lists are merely guidelines, not rules - reminders, not LAW.