I have worked with all kinds of leaders new leaders, experienced leaders, leaders without the title, CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, CFOs, business owners, career corporate executives, volunteers, board of director chairs, and even local government officials. Almost all of them would say (including me) that they struggle with the same thing.

One thing I have universally found that all leaders struggle with is having confidence that they are focused on the most impactful activities. I have helped leaders (and myself) develop these skills for more than 20 years. It’s a struggle that cannot be permanently solved. But, leaders (and I) can implement systems that will increase confidence that they are working on the most impactful activities.

“It’s a struggle that will never be permanently solved, but leaders can implement systems.”

My Story

I have always been enamored with the idea that ‘it is up to me to decide what I spend my time doing’. I think that it is cool that as an adult and a professional that I get to decide how and what I work on. I love categorizing and organizing things and that is true of categorizing and organizing my time.

I used a paper calendar (like you get at an office supply store) through college to keep track of my classes, activities, and work. Once I started my career (post college) I discovered electronic organizers. I thought these were cool because I love technology.

The Franklin Quest System

After a few years in my career, I had an opportunity to attend a Franklin Quest training program (before they became FranklinCovey). This was the 1990’s system where people carried leather 7-ring binders to keep all their information (goals, prioritized to-do lists, schedules, and notes).

It completely changed my life and helped me put structure around an overall planning system. I stuck with that handwritten system for more than 10 years (even though I love technology).

People Avoided Me

I eventually became a Franklin Quest trainer in one of my corporate jobs. In the days and weeks after conducting my training program, I noticed that people who attended the program were avoiding me. They would duck down a hallway when seeing me.

Finally, I cornered someone who attended one of my programs to ask why people were avoiding me. Reluctantly, they shared that they got a lot out of the principles and systems provided in the training, but that they were a little ashamed that they were not using the program exactly as it was taught.

The problem is that “Off the shelf” systems don’t fit how most people work. If there is anything I have learned from working with countless leaders, is that everyone works differently. It is no different when it comes to a prioritization system. Learn about and try as many systems as you can. In time, take bits and pieces that ultimately develops into a system that works for you. But . . . keep working on your system.

I suggestion is to learn about and try as many systems as you can. Over time, take bits and pieces that fit how you work and ultimately develops into a system that works for you. But . . . keep working on your system.

For more than 20 years I have developed my system. I have progressed to a combined electronic and handwritten system that works for me. Simply having a system puts you ahead of most people.

This month, I will be posting about how to prioritize your activities. Get the free companion worksheet that will accompany all posts this month.

Free Companion PDF


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