What One Thing…?
I recently read a book summary of Gary Keller’s and Jay Papasan’s book, The One Thing. Most of the book had very typical time management tips, one of which was to identify your biggest priority every day and do that first. Good advice that I’ve heard before. But he framed it in a way that has been very helpful to me…and I hope it will be helpful for you. He gives advice on how to pick that big priority. His suggestion is to pick a high-leverage activity—something that doesn’t just have a one-to-one ratio of time and benefit. So if I pick reviewing storyboards as my biggest priority and do that first, the storyboards are reviewed. But that’s it. There’s no leverage—no trickle-down effect. Keller poses this question:
“What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
Apply this to my storyboard review task. Some high-leverage activities might be to take the time to train someone else to review storyboards, to create a checklist for writers to use to review their own work before submitting it to me (so that there are fewer things to comment on), or to set up some keyboard shortcuts in Word to make reviewing easier (insert comment, accept change, etc.). All of these tasks will make future tasks easier or unnecessary.
Those that know me know I’m a list-aholic. I keep a six-column to-do list (for which I am often openly mocked!). One of my columns is for “nice-to-do” activities, those that are urgent but not important (Quadrant 2 in the land of Stephen Covey). I’ve put a big shaded box in that column where I write the one thing I plan to do that week to make something else easier or unnecessary. For this week, I plan on creating a style guide for our E-Learning Uncovered books.
We’ve also been working on this as a company. At our annual retreat in March, we brainstormed a huge list of things we could do to help refine our processes, save time, improve quality, etc. We are whittling away at them one by one. Many of them were quick fixes where we found ourselves asking, “Why didn’t we do this years ago?” Here are some of the tasks we’ve tackled since that meeting:
- Created a style guide for storyboard writers
- Created a style guide for authoring tool developers
- Refined our online QA tracking sheet to encourage better self-checking of work
- Revised our storyboard template
- Created a start-up checklist for project management tasks
The goal is to create a leaner, meaner machine that lets us be more responsive to customer deadlines while increasing quality. It’s definitely paying off already, but I’ll admit, it takes a lot of discipline to make these “nice-to-do” activities a priority.
How about you? What one thing could you do this week that makes something else easier or unnecessary?