I’ve been getting ready to post a set of resources (video, blog, worksheet) on how to say “no.” I thought that before I did that, I should probably spend some time on the topic of when to say “yes.” Here is a quick but important review that you should do when a significant (or even an insignificant) piece of new work hits your desk.
What you’re looking for is work that’s in your sweet spot: the intersection between what you were hired to do, what you are great at, and what is most important to your team in the current situation. If you spend as much time and energy as possible in that sweet spot, you’ll make a huge contribution to your team. You’ll also feel like you’ve accomplished something at the end of the day.
Here’s what you’re looking for:
I was hired to do this:
You need to say yes to the things you were hired to do. What is your title? What is your role? What is your team expecting of you? It’s shocking, I know, but many people spend time and energy on the things they like to do, rather than the things the organization and the team is counting on them to do. Don’t be one of those people. If you act like you are working for yourself, your company might soon make it official! Figure out your role and add that value first. If you have time for hobbies at work when all your real job is done—knock yourself out.
I am good at this:
Time you spend on work that your great at will yield much greater returns than time spent on things you’re bad at. Try to spend as much time as possible doing work that you excel at. Unfortunately, spending time and energy doing work you aren’t good at can be really tempting. You’re trying to pull your weight, you’re trying to be conscientious and get things done. I am reminded of my dad’s line about people who use the excuse that they’re “trying.” He simply responds “yes you are, very trying.” If you’re not good at something, ask for help and do it before your lack of skill leaves your team behind the eight ball.
This is important right now:
You should be choosing a triaging all the possible work you could be doing based on what is the most important to the team right now. There are lots of things that show up on your job description and that you’re great at that just aren’t that important, right now. Devoting time and energy to those things might feel good, but you’re doing a disservice to your team. It’s easy to procrastinate by doing things that seem valuable. These days, you can’t afford to be doing lower priority work. Figure out what’s important and get focused on that first.
Get your priorities straight. Make sure you’re saying “yes” to the right work.