Why Picky People Get Ahead

Published: March 29, 2011
By: Faye Hollands

I’ve always been a bit of a stickler for good time management, but as a recent first-time Mum my time mastery talents have been well and truly put to the test over the last four months.   Of all the lessons I’ve learned, there’s one that’s kept me sane during this time and you don’t need to be a parent to take advantage of it.  Here’s how to get ahead AND end your day feeling great…

It Pays To Be Selective

For most people life’s busy and there’s an ever-growing to-do list hanging around, waiting to be ticked-off.  With so much to be done, your list can end up being like a memory bank helping you remember what you’ve got to to do next, rather than focusing on what’s most important in your day.

If that sounds like you, beware!  Whilst writing everything down can appear to make life easier, seeing a heap of actions in front of you can also be stressful and overwhelming, creating quite the opposite effect it was designed to do and instead stopping you in your tracks instead of helping you get more done.

Since having my daughter my to-do list has grown faster than the weeds in my garden.  Not only is work stacking up, but I also now have a whole ‘other job’ to fit in to the same 24 hours which can be overwhelming, stressful and extremely tiring at times.  On the other hand, it can also mean that I get to experience an even more rewarding and fruitful day than I had previously, as I juggle so many different challenges and demands.  So what’s the secret to making sure your day end on a high instead of feeling frazzled and unsatisfied?

Hindsight’s a great thing so here’s what I’ve observed:-

  • Bad Days: When I get to the end of the day and it’s not been so great there’s a general theme – I started the day with no plan of action, I had a long to-do list with no focus, and I sporadically did whatever seemed easy or quick regardless of how the outcome made me feel
  • Good days: When I get to the end of the day and I feel satisfied (tired or not!) there’s ONE common denominator – I started the day doing the ONE thing on my to-do list that was going to give me the greatest sense of achievement and pleasure

Plowing through your to-do list and getting lots of little things done can make you feel good, but you also run the risk of not completing anything that really mattered, and instead ending the day with a high-priority task still hanging round your neck, vowing to crack onto it tomorrow (….until the same vicious cycle happens all over again!).

Instead, what I do is start my day by picking just one thing that I really want to get done and then do everything I can to make sure it’s completed by bedtime.  That ‘one thing’ doesn’t have to be big or time consuming, but it needs to be something that will make you feel satisfied when it’s complete.

So today my ‘one thing’ is writing this blog post …. it’s been three months since I wrote my last one and I know I’m going to feel fantastic when it’s done. There are 101 other things I want to do in my business, in-between feeding my daughter, fitting in lots of cuddles and play time, going to the gym, cooking dinner and walking my dog.  It would be far too easy to drop the blog post and to carry on with all of the other things that have to get done everyday, but with that mindset I would never move forward personally or professionally.  That doesn’t mean to say that everything else gets dropped – all it means is that the other 101 things on my to-do list wait until they are high on the satisfaction scale!

By focusing on just ONE task that gives me a sense of achievement I end the day on a high, move my business forward, and give myself a personal sense of satisfaction that boosts my motivation levels.  It’s a no-brainer – get picky!

So what are you going to do today that will leave you feeling great when you switch the lights off tonight?  Post a comment below and let me know…

Faye Hollands

About Faye Hollands

Faye is an accomplished Career Coach, Small Business Coach and Productivity Specialist who has successfully coached countless clients on how to create a career they love, get more done in less time, and achieve personal and professional success. To receive weekly articles to improve your career, business and time management skills click here or book your Free Focus Session here.

You can contact Faye on +61 2 8323 4335 or email fayehollands@outshineconsulting.com

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8 Responses to Why Picky People Get Ahead

  1. Ah Faye…so true.

    It is satisfying? Scary? That just getting one thing done has become so important since becoming a mother.

    My number one goal that I have nearly established as a habit is….having a shower before lunchtime! I never thought I would have to say that.

    But my next habit is actually having a to-do list and picking the one thing every day to focus on (other than my baby of course!)

    Congratulations on getting back to work!

    • Oh Katie, I hear ya! Yep, who would have thought ‘having a shower’ would need to be on a to-do list, but you’re not alone there – I’m the same and I’m sure most new-mothers are too! I’ll try to make sure that’s on Wednesday’s to-do list before I come and visit you 😉

  2. Maria

    Hi Faye,

    I’ve missed your blog posts!!!! Glad to hear your having a fun time.

    I guess you now what I meant when I first started with you and said that with little ones sometimes it’s easier just to have no plan 🙂

    So for me the key thing on my ever growing to do list ( and I can’t help but make it into three because I have 3 deadlines looming):

    1) Get my key result areas for my Carbon Management Response Plan sorted to draft presentation stage (first priority since assessments come first)

    2) Prepare for committee meeting – big meeting and big brief regarding policies and seeking serious funding so I have to sell it the right way to the committee – that is happening tomorrow evening.

    3) Prepare for Thursday’s team-teaching job – I’ll be damned if I have to do any more volunteering there!!!! – funny that making money has become priority 3.

    Think I can do 3 since both my girls will be in Kindy so I will have about 5-6hrs to squeeze it all in – what do you reckon?! Still too much?

    All the best and enjoy the mayhem while it lasts!


    • Maria – great to hear from you, it’s been ages! I’m delighted things are going so well for you 🙂 Your 3 points sound great – did you manage to smash them all? I hope so. I think as a Mum you get very good at being VERY focused in the short gaps you have inbetween feed/school runs/meal times etc – at least, that’s my take on it so far! It’s amazing how much you can cram into a few short hours when that’s all you’ve got to ‘play’ with!!

  3. Oh Faye

    You always were inspiring but now you’ve become even more RELEVANT to me. I love this post. I remember getting back to the ol’ home office around the 4 month mark too. That overwhelming feeling of never getting ANYTHING done, let alone the important things.

    Now with a toddler it’s even harder – unbelievable some days…

    So thanks for the little reminder about not aiming too high and hitting the high satisfaction areas. It has helped me today already


    • Hey Melissa – SO lovely to hear from you, and I’m glad my blog hit the mark! Motherhood certainly is a HUGE adjustment isn’t it, and combining that with working for yourself is one almighty challenge, but it’s really rewarding when (WHEN!) it all comes together 😉 Looking forward to talking to you soon, Faye

  4. Pingback: 5 Ways To Radically Improve Your Time Management - Time Management - Productivity Coaching — Outshine Consulting

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