At Box of Crayons, we distinguish between Good Work and Great Work. Good Work is the everyday stuff we need to get done; Great Work is the work we love to do, the work with more meaning and impact.
In today’s busy, email-oriented world, it’s all too easy to get caught up with daily pressing tasks, letting that Great Work fall by the wayside. There is no quick remedy to help you stay focused on your Great Work, and there will always be pressing tasks demanding your undivided attention, but there are a few tactics to help you remember your Great Work.
Tactic 1: The Daily Reminder
Every morning, before even checking your email, decide on one key thing you must achieve that day that will bring you closer to accomplishing your Great Work. It can be anything you choose — maybe you’ve been meaning to draft an outline of a project that’s important to you, or maybe you want to make a phone call that will get things rolling. You might even decide that you need to let go of something in order to get closer to your Great Work. Make the decision and stick to it.
Tactic 2: The Weekly Reminder
At the start of a new week, decide on the three things that need to transpire in order for you to get closer to your Great Work. Don’t check your email, don’t think about all the daily tasks you need to complete this week. Instead, put aside five or ten minutes to really think about what needs to happen this week, and decide on the steps to get there.
Tip 3: The Quarterly Reminder
The start of a quarter can be stressful, but it can also be a great time to get clear on three to five key projects you’re working on that you consider to be your Great Work — the work that has an impact and makes a difference. (Just imagine how things would change if everyone in your organization was doing just a little bit more of their Great Work!) Think about your Great Work at the start of each quarter and use it as motivation.
It’s not enough to merely get things done at work. The more work you just get through for the sake of getting through it, the less engaged and motivated you’ll feel. Don’t get disconnected from your Great Work — help others do more of the work that matters, and help yourself do so too.
Of course, different tactics work for different people, but…
The key to getting to your Great Work is making sure you keep coming back to it. @boxofcrayons (Click to Tweet!)
That Great Work needs to keep resurfacing. Manage your priorities and find a process that works for you. You probably took on your role because of the promise of your Great Work — don’t lose sight of it!
Remind yourself of the point of it all, see the humor in life and rise up when you think you’re resigned. Take the Great Work process one day, one week and one quarter at a time.
Michael Bungay Stanier is the Senior Partner at Box of Crayons, a company that gives busy managers the tools to coach in 10 minutes or less. He’s written a number of books, and has recently launched The Coaching Habit after too many false starts.