Two Tons of Fertilizer – Part 2

Last week I shared about an ad I remember from my years as a teen with the tagline, “That’s like trying to haul two tons of fertilizer in a one-ton truck.” The main focus of my post was to show that we often try to put too much activity into our home life, and what we are left with is a lot of “fertilizer” falling all over us. This week I would like to look at our work lives.

Just as at home, we over promise and over schedule our workdays. We need to create margin in our day, or we begin to lose our effectiveness. For me, the months of August, September, and October were a perfect example of this. I didn’t have any margin built in, and while I almost doubled my revenue goals, I was missing important things and I was behind on many others. People who are accustomed to getting a response from me didn’t get them in a timely fashion. Projects that normally would take two weeks stretched out to five weeks. We won’t even get into what happened to my health in the process. Has this ever happened to you? The solution is to create margin in your day. Make time to think, regroup, reflect, and prepare properly for the tasks at hand.

Just as we did last week, we need to prioritize properly. The three Rs we discussed last week work great. Identify in your day what is Required, what gives the greatest Return, and what gives you the greatest Reward. Required activities are those that are life-sustaining, or perhaps in this case, business sustaining. Greatest return activities are those that move the ball down the field the most with the least amount of effort. Greatest reward activities are those that speak to your heart or have great meaning in your life. Once you have your list, start looking for resources.

The key to adding margin in your work life is to schedule it. Start by adding what Cal Newport calls “Deep Work” into your schedule. Place 45-60 minute blocks of time once or twice a day on your calendar. This will be the time you use to work on key tasks or projects. The next most important detail is to keep space between meetings. When one meeting runs into the next, your brain doesn’t have time to process the information, and you will lose track of key details.

I know what you are thinking; Dave doesn’t have a clue about my job. You’re right, I don’t, but regardless of where you work and who you work for, living life without margin will reduce your effectiveness. If you would like more tips on how you can add margin into your workday, please join Marisa Norcross and me for Episode 127 of The Next Page podcast.

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