If you were to take all of the tools you currently posses, your skills, your education, your experience, your laptop, your blackberry, and all other technology, and focus only on tasks, you would probably find yourself to be the most “productive” person on the planet. You could get much more done in much less time compared to everyone else. You could check off items from your daily “to-do” list at exponential rates, creating space for you to do more and more and more.

But wait just a minute, is success and productivity only measured by doing more and more and more? In our world today, this often seems to be the case. We have so many tools to help us get more done in a shorter time frame and it feels good to check things off the proverbial “to-do” list. However, just getting things done quickly isn’t always better. In fact, it is quite possible that we get so caught up in getting things done, that we might be spending our time on things that really don’t deserve our time and attention! When this happens, it means we are getting caught in the activity trap. Our focus is on checking off the “to-do” items, but we become nearsighted to the long-term horizon. Now you must ask yourself the question, “If I lose sight of the horizon, then what am I really doing today?” “If I can’t see the future, then are the things that I am checking off on my daily “to-do” list helping? Or are they hurting future opportunities?”

Question: Why do people get caught up in the magnetic pull of completing tasks?

Answer: Because it feels like forward movement which gives you a sense of accomplishment and can create pride and self-worth. While this is good, I want to suggest that we make sure our daily contributions are going toward the ultimate focus, the big picture in our lives. So when we finally reach that pinnacle and defining moment, we know we were on the right track. Then we truly reap the fruit of our labors. Imagine working thirty, forty, maybe even fifty years down a path that when it comes to an end, it does not align with your ultimate end objective. Wouldn’t that be frustrating and disappointing?

FreedomIn order to make sure we have our daily contributions on track, it is important to do a little strategic thinking. That’s right. Just do a little more creative and critical thinking about what to do each day and how it will impact tomorrow. As an added benefit of forward thinking, you’ll be surprised at what items can fall off your daily “to-do” list. I don’t think any of us need more to do, our days are full enough as it is. What we need to do is make sure that what is on our plate belongs on our plate! Gaining control of our daily efforts creates a greater sense of accomplishment in the short and long term, as well as provides a sense of freedom. Freedom to do more with your time and freedom to spend your time focused on the right things. Everyday strategy is a concept that I believe can bring an added-value to you individually and to your organization.

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About the Author
Matt Fankhauser
Matt began his career with CMOE and is a Regional Vice President. Matt has experience in management, marketing, advertising, and sales. He has developed and delivered personnel performance reviews, been involved with hiring, interviewing, and training processes for different employment positions. He has participated in market research and conducted interviewing involved with the research. He has delivered keynote presentations at various association meetings for SHRM, ASTD and others. He has facilitated groups in training sessions involved with the skill development of Coaching, Leadership, Team Building, Facilitation, and Strategic Thinking. He has also been involved with the design and development of Executive Team Retreats, organizational case studies and training materials, as well as the translation of organizational training materials.

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