Focus on the Vital Few

Take a hard look at where you spend your time each day. How do you know if you’re spending your time wisely? Are you wasting it on things that don’t give you the biggest return for your effort?

It is not uncommon for bosses to discover that they are doing work that belongs to their direct reports. Delegate activities to the right people, and stay focused on what’s most important for you. Maybe it’s time to put a plan in place to better manage your time and resources and keep your Vital Few a #1 priority.

Review the Pareto Principle from the MAP workshop: roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. That means we get more return when we focus on the Vital Few, even if we put in the same effort! Learn to ignore or delegate the “trivial many." As you review your work activities, ask yourself if each of those activities are contributing to your Vital Few.

Being a better manager starts with the way you manage yourself. You must manage your own time efficiently before you can help others. Spend a few days logging and reviewing your activities and day-to-day work. Are each of your actions contributing to your Vital Few? If not, create a plan that prioritizes those Vital Few, taking time, resources and people into consideration. At the very least, your plan should include the following goals, as highlighted by MAP coach Steve Behunin in one of our professional webinars:

  • Streamline activities and discontinue tasks you can delegate to others;
  • Identify and cut out time-wasters and energy-robbers;
  • Amend, update, and simplify unnecessarily complex procedures;
  • Restructure cumbersome daily routines, and focus your energy;
  • Train yourself to do tasks in the fastest, most sensible way possible.

    Achieving these broader goals also includes strategic action steps. For example, if you’re currently starring in that classic, do-it-all, always-saving-the-day “Superhero” role, start shedding that big, emblazoned “S.” Write up a roadmap for each day, sticking firmly to its timeframes, responsibilities, and boundaries. You might have to institute greater accountability among your reports with problems, requiring them to bring more solutions to the table. If meetings are your big time-sucker, develop tricks to nix nonproductive tendencies, better regulating time and energy in the room. Be sure to leave some time each day for “unexpected emergencies.”

    As a leader, you can’t expect your direct reports to focus on their Vital Few if you’re not doing it yourself! Be the critical catalyst for the change you want, transforming your culture and driving goal achievement. Show others how they should treat their time, resources, and other staff members, and, pretty soon, everyone will be spending their precious minutes more wisely. You’ll all be keeping the Vital Few in the forefront, and everyone — including you — will reap big rewards!

    Don’t be shocked if you find yourself in a sort of newfound “Management Zen,” where you’re more relaxed, more at peace, and yet still surprisingly productive.

    What has worked for you to manage your time more effectively?


    ​ The Disciplined Leader

    What do the best leaders have in common? The answer is one word: Discipline. A disciplined leader is one who identifies and focuses on the Vital Few: the 20% of activities that will drive 80% of the results. Learn More

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