Friday, March 27, 2009

The End of the "To-Do Lists"

Where has a "To-do list" ever gotten anybody?

Time management gurus stick to the notion that having a sound "to-do list" is a great tool for efficiency and productivity. Nothing new has come out of the time management field in a long time. Of course, there is some value in having a "to-do list." And, granted, it feels good to check-off or put a line through each item. You may even feel relief in knowing that you may have gotten someone off your imaginary back. But, is that real value? Will your feeling last? Who cares?

Let's think. Do you really get a sense of satisfaction out of getting those types of items done. Will you really remember accomplishing anything when you look back on the day? Do you really feel that you have achieved anything? I say not.

I talk to executives and managers all the time. I particularly find that during job interviews candidates are drawn to jobs and opportunities in which their talents will be deployed to make a difference. However, in most instances, once they are hired and as their role is developed and clarified, their performance is often measured in small ways; in ways that reflect the old "to-do list" mentality. Their talents are wasted, the company flounders, and disappointment sets in all around. It is a set up for failure and disillusionment; an opportunity thrown away.

What about a "to-make-a-difference" list? What about a well-thought out list of high-impact actions that will add long-term, lasting value? What about a list of "game-changing" moves that will be remembered well beyond today? What about actions that will be easily shared by others and quickly remembered at annual review time? What about actions that support your vision of success, for you and the organization? Think about that the next time you start jotting down your "to-do list."

Instead, make it a "to-make-a-difference" list? How different will that list be? How different will you feel putting a dent in that list? I can hear the change in your energy level and motivation already. Go ahead, try it.

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