11 February 2015

It doesn't have to be complicated

I had a co-worker at a previous job, he was amazing at what he did.  He was a great salesman, great team member, and an inspiration to the entire sales team.  I can’t think of anything he did, from a work perspective, which was not productive and intentional to his day.  The one thing he did, that will always stand out to me is so simple.  It was a fundamental of basic organization, for any career path, for any challenge or any task, it’s what every one of us should do.  He always had an ongoing “to do” list.

There are those reading this and thinking to themselves, who doesn’t do this and why would Derek waste time discussing this?  If you thought that, just back out and move along.  You are clearly better prepared than myself, and most of the people I come into contact with.   The idea of a list is so simple, yet many of us just forget to apply it.  Especially in my beloved auto industry, everyone is busy.  Being busy is a terribly good thing, however, being organized and busy is a more terribly good-er thing.

I find myself always having a load of things to do.  Living most of the week on the road, I have reports to file, PowerPoints to build, Web site audits, Webinars, basic email communication, Social Media promotion of my brand, my companies brand, my contracted companies brand, staying abreast of basic industry knowledge, speculating about future industry knowledge, following up on my dealers understanding of how I’ve expelled my industry knowledge from my face.  It’s a lot.  I love all of it, maybe not the reports, but they are without a doubt a necessary evil, that brings me back to this topic of ”to do” list.

For the most part, we all know what we need to do.  Yet, we lose sight of what writing things down can mean to your daily plan.  Writing things down gives you a quantifiable and objective view of how much you need to accomplish. To Do Lists serves as a perspective provider to your day/week/month/year .  If your list is a page and half long, maybe that desire to click on that cat fighting an alligator video can be staved off.  If not, here you go, see you in 2:11.

OK, I’m sure you watched it, the video proves two things, Cats are dumb, as are the people that would let their kid and cats play around Alligators in that manner.  They are killing machines, and I love them for that, but this is illustrated stupidity.

Where were we?

Their second great function, is putting things in order.  When you can see what has to be done as a whole, you can figure out what order you can best accomplish each task. I know this isn't rocket science, but it's also easily overlooked. 

The third and most important thing for me is that list allow a brief celebration of accomplishment.  I’ve not met one person who doesn’t enjoy crossing an accomplished task off a list. If you don’t get a little joy out of that, go to the doctor and have them check you for a pulse.

I believe all managers should be asking their employees to see their to do list, especially in my business.  Not to check it over, but just to instill the idea that they should have one and be using it.  All consultants should be asking the people they are training to make a to do list during the training.  In my industry, I’m finding it’s a good idea to provide them with the task I expect them to accomplish.  Even if ignored, it’s a good training tool for my next consultation.  “If you aren’t making the small incremental changes we are talking about, why would you expect your employees to make any changes they need to make?”

Even reading this back, it’s such a simple idea, but that’s why it gets overlooked so easily.  If you had the self-control to avoid the Cat vs Alligator video before, add watching it to you to do list now.  No animals or people get hurt, and again, cats are stupid.

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