Sunday, August 23, 2015

Transform Your Effectiveness: Thirty Minutes To Rule Them All (2/4)

Picture yourself packing your things on Friday evening. You have just finished a long week of work, and you’re grateful it’s Friday. You look forward to a night out on the town, breakfast in bed, and a relaxing time in the spa. You do not head into this weekend with any reservations; you have given your best and taken significant steps towards achieving your objectives. You have invested in your relationships and helped friends and associates complete their tasks. You have paid your dues.

Does this feel good?

How often do you feel this way on Friday evenings?


Three months after starting work, I became very busy. My ‘to-do list’ ballooned out of control, filled with tasks and requests from people seeking to leverage my fresh perspective or raw energy. I started working twelve to fourteen hour days to keep up with the workload and barely had time for anything outside work. The spring in my step disappeared, and my eyes had bags. I was drowning.

Then something happened to change everything. I got an email communicating the date for the half-year review that would determine my confirmation, or otherwise. It suddenly hit me that I had not made much headway with my objectives – preferring instead to help others achieve theirs.

After indulging my worst fears that evening, I dug out my half-year objectives and reviewed the success measures I had written against each of them. I thought in detail about the presentation I would make, including which room I would use for the meeting and which result I would present first. I even thought about where I would go to celebrate. I invested so much in the visualization that I practically time-travelled. Before leaving the office that day, I shredded my ‘to-do’ list!

You see, reviewing what was really important helped me realize my ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. I was very busy, and in fact – very efficient, but I couldn’t have been farther from being effective. I found for myself that it was easy to get caught up with activity, to work harder and harder and squeeze out the last drop of efficiency, and yet to not achieve the results that mattered.

Beginning with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.” – Stephen Covey
The practice of ‘beginning with the end in mind’ as described above applies in many circumstances, and I find its true worth in managing myself every day to do and be what matters most relative to my desires, values, and objectives.

After multiple starts, stops, and experimentation with different styles – I arrived at the following approach to apply this principle at work on a weekly basis:

  1. I review my short to medium term objectives on Monday morning.
  2. I list milestones I can reach that week against each of the objectives, and identify what I need to do to reach these milestones.
  3. I schedule time to complete tasks feeding into these milestones, considering my peak time and body preferences (more on this next week). I also schedule time to review my progress on Wednesday and on Friday.
  4. I fit in meeting invitations, requests for help, and other tactical tasks and activities around the times scheduled in (3) above.
  5. I execute!

I invite you to try a similar approach, starting your week by reviewing your objectives and scheduling time to work on important things first. I have done this for months, and it takes about thirty minutes – thirty minutes that make a huge difference in the quality of my work and results through the week. Next week, I’ll share specific tips to help you bring this practice to life every day.


That’s all for today. I trust this post was easy to follow, and I hope you will find it easy to apply. If you missed the first post on eating healthy, please go here to read.

See you next week!


UPDATE: Go here to read the next post in this series.


  1. This is very true and works. We use Google calendar to schedule meetings and can view everyone's calendar to see when they are available to help with a task or join a meeting.
    But how about some people that work in fast-paced environments that changes very minute?
    Tasks and objectives can change because your boss needs you to handle a task (sometimes it's part of your job).
    Also, some tasks are dependent on some people which can be an issue sometimes.
    But overall, taking time for scheduling is very very important and super effective.
    Hope you'll teach us how to build a good routine too.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Mr. Akin Soga. I'll touch on this in my next post, out on Sunday. :)

  3. Hmmm, "working backwards"... Nice one and would give it a try. Though I have a mindset that "you cannot appreciate where you are going if you don't know where you're coming from." which is more of "working forward" to me... Or are they similar?

    1. Hi Segun :),
      Knowing where you are coming from relative to where you are going i.e. "working forward" applies in a somewhat different context. For example, a company could measure their sales performance versus their sales in a previous year AND the overall market growth in the current year.

      I have considered it since first reading this comment, and I still believe "working backwards" applies more in the context of 'effectiveness'... It is easier to achieve a goal when it actually exists in your mind and on paper, and when you can list out steps and sub-projects that help you deliver the overall goal.

      Thanks for stopping by :).