Tue | Nov 13, 2018

Glenford Smith | The tasks that matter most

Published:Wednesday | December 20, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Strategically align your tasks and duties at work with the activities that matter most to your company, and consistently do an excellent job. The tasks that matter the most to the company are those that directly affect the bottom line. That is one secret of the high performers that you find in corporations.

Many times, you will hear someone complaining bitterly about being passed over for promotion. Oftentimes you need not look further than what they are doing they are labouring hard at the activities that doesn't really matter. These activities do not matter to the people who matter. That is not to say they do not matter, it's just that they do not matter to the people who do matter.

Usain Bolt ran his best when it mattered. Go back over his career and notice that he made sure that he was prepared for the championships. He could not mess up. After all, we will remember him by the Olympics and World Championship events of his career: triple record holder, 11-time world champion, and eight-time Olympic champion. That's what counts.

Many people in the office get caught up in email and text messages, talking on the phone for long periods, and attending to a slew of things that won't be remembered past next week. These are nothing more than distractions in the big scheme

of things.

In the big scheme of things, they don't matter. Have approximately 30 per cent of your time dedicated to such things and stay strictly within the time allotted to them.

To produce outputs or outcomes that do matter, do an inventory of your activities. Which ones of your activities will be pivotal to your getting promoted? If this is not something that you are now doing, strategise how you can start doing it.

The author of The High Performance Habits, Brendon Burchard, has what he calls 'prolific quality output' which he describes as 'more high-quality output than one's peers over the longterm'. He says that is how they become more effective, better known, and more remembered.

People who are not oriented like this might be resistant to this, insisting that this is idealistic and not grounded in practicality. Well, you can look at the evidence.

Steve Whittaker is a professor of human-computer interaction, and he works at the intersection of computer science and psychology. He was part of a study of 85,000 actions by 345 users that found that people who create complex folders are less efficient in finding what they need than those who simply use search or threading.

Take some time and figure out what represent those items on your 'critical path' are. Start spending time on those to the exclusion of everything else. For a salesperson, it might be making and keeping appointments that result in a number of sales per month. The graphic designer might come up with a certain number of images.

If you assess your career and discover that you are being compensated for outputs which are not fulfilling or exciting, perhaps you can think of changing. You will be in that job that is not engaging the deepest part of yourself. Don't do anything rash. But consider how you can get out of that job and honour the truth and make that change.

n Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'. Email: