As someone who can’t help but work more than 70 to 80 hours a week, I’m pretty sure I’m not qualified to talk about what I’m going to share. Simply because the questions below are robust and have saved me from me on more occasions than one.
I also think most people who work hard aren’t focused on the right things, to begin with. And how they view things often gets in their way to becoming a high-performer. More into that, as we dive deeper into the questions.
Here we go:
1. What’s the most important thing I should be doing right now? More often than not, busy people with massive to-do lists pick up tasks that are simpler or seemingly easier compared to the ones they actually should be focusing on. The straightforward tasks give them a sense of temporary accomplishment, which they deep down know wouldn’t last long.
2. Is this task still essential, or has the situation changed? This might have happened with me hundreds of times! I commit to a project that gets sidelined due to some other priority. When I go back to pick the project back up, it isn’t a priority anymore. So, I don’t have to waste my time working on it. The challenge is that I wouldn’t even think about this aspect if I don’t pause and reflect on this question!
3. Am I the only person who can get this done?
The answer to this question is almost always a “no.” Being a top performer means you’ve got standards and that often gets in your way when it comes to delegating or assigning projects to someone else. It is so much better to teach someone else how to get things done than doing everything by yourself. All you need to do is communicate your expectations (your minimum standards) and trust them. You’ll be surprised by the outcome.
4. Would completing this task today satisfy me?
Probably the most important question people should be thinking about. But they don’t. I don’t see a point in investing so much energy and focus on things that don’t give me a sense of accomplishment. That’s why prioritising your tasks (from intricate to simple) is so critical — higher the complexity of a task, higher will be your level of satisfaction.
Regardless of who you are or what you do, working hard doesn’t mean you have to burn yourself out. It’s just one part of the equation when it comes to high performers, the other part being your ability to perform well. And you can’t if you’re mindless about your approach to getting things done.
The questions above can help you focus on the important stuff — the 20% that delivers 80% of your work-related results. And that’s precisely what high-performers focus all their time and attention on.