6 Ideas to Avoid the Activity Trap

Last week, I wrote about the pitfalls of non-strategic activity in a post entitled, Don’t Confuse Activity with Accomplishment. Most of the leaders I know would admit, we unwittingly find ourselves in this trap from time to time. Or perhaps most treacherous, we find ourselves doing things that add value – but not the highest value. When this happens, we’ve let the good become the enemy of the best.

How can we guard our calendars and our lives from these lesser activities? Here are a few ideas that may help.
Determine your priorities. If we don’t set our priorities, someone else will gladly do that for us. What are the most important activities you need to focus on over the next 6 weeks? I wrote a post about this, For Your Leadership Toolbox.
Schedule your priorities. Once you understand your priorities, you can increase the chances of acting on them by scheduling them. Literally allocate time on your calendar to accomplish them.
Delegate freely. Chances are good, if you’re in a leadership role, your plate is full. When you identify something that someone can do, delegate those things. Leaders who hold on to too much have chosen to limit their influence and impact.
Outsource. I know this is not always the right option. However, if you’re open to the possibility, I think you’ll be amazed how often this makes sense. Here’s an example: We used to stage all our own events at Chick-fil-A. We actually got good at it. So why did we decide to outsource? Three primary reasons: Staging events was not a core competence for us; we could find vendors who specialized and therefore, were better than we were at doing it; allowing someone else to do this generated internal capacity to focus on other things.
Stop doing 2nd tier activities. There will inevitably be activities you can’t delegate or outsource that don’t add huge value. Stop doing those things. The risk is if you keep doing second tier activities, you will not have time to do the things that add the most value.
Reevaluate constantly. Everything I’ve described above is a moving target. Goals change, priorities changes, options for delegation and outsourcing change, what adds the most value can even change over time. My recommendation is to always be assessing how you invest your time.
The Activity Trap is alluring. As I wrote about last week, it is the siren that has shipwrecked countless leaders. Fight with all your might to stay out of this trap. We get no credit for doing the wrong things well.[GLS_Shield]
 

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Chris Patton

8 years ago

Thanks for the solid list, Mark. I have incorporated several of these actions into my annual LIFE planning process, but I see a couple of these that I need to prioritize. This whole idea is such a critical skill for leaders, but so many ignore it! I do drift at times, but when I follow this part of my process, I find I am SO much more productive and effective.
Thanks again for sharing!

Blake

8 years ago

This is so great Mark, thanks for sharing! Something I think all leaders can relate too. I love the practical step of scheduling in first tier activities to make sure they get accomplished. I’m going to share this and challenge our leadership team with applying these ideas to our everyday rhythms. All the best!

mark

8 years ago

Thanks for your comment! I’d love to hear how it goes with you and your team. Also, any insights you have on this topic will be appreciated! Mark

Al

7 years ago

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