Doing Things That Only You Can Do

Written by on November 28, 2023

I remember when my business partner, Wally Schmader, commented…. “Tracy, the ultimate would be when you are doing things that only you can do.” I thought about it for a long time. It made me uncomfortable at first, then excited me at the idea of prioritizing in a way I hadn’t considered. I am good at getting most everything done that I commit to…but I wasn’t necessarily doing the things that aligned with my strengths and priorities.

Are you a to-do list maker? Do you write things on your list you have already done just so you can mark them off? We could debate the value of even having a to-do list but it’s probably more efficient to just agree that “getting it all done” and being totally caught up is illusive at best.

There are probably 100 things you “should” do each day. The question shouldn’t be: “How can I get it all done?” The better question is: “What are the things I need to be doing that offer the greatest return on investment for me…for my business, my family, my health, and my mental well-being? Think of it like this. Your job is to figure out which things are the non-negotiables.

I’ve seen people use fancy forms of procrastination like over-organizing (always getting ready and never getting started), scheduling more meetings than necessary, jumping on too many conference calls, letting emails come in real-time, not saying no to things they should, etc. This leads most of us to believe being busy is the same as being productive.

If you do use a to-do list, then add a must-do list to it. This list should have the one or two things that will make the biggest difference in your day. The things that might take a bit more time but will give you more satisfaction because they are finished. Begin each day with the things you have decided you must accomplish. Once you accomplish those one or two things, then move to the typical to-do list.

If you have never used a to-do list, this will be easy. Just jot a few things on a sticky note first thing in the morning and throw it away as soon as you finish.

Doing things that only you can do, is aspirational and will take some time and require some discernment. For example, I wouldn’t announce this to the family as a way to get out of household chores or anything. This strategy would be best suited for the work environment where you have a team that you can leverage the strengths of all…. but even if you don’t have a team or a “work environment,” thinking more strategically about where your time and attention go can benefit us all.

Being busy is exhausting. Being productive is energizing. Knowing the difference? Well, that’s the right question for sure.