I saw  this post originally last December and found it relevant. Now that we are midway through the year, I thought that we might want to recalibrate.

Guest Post by Babette Ten Haken

Time Management-5 Tips for Identifying Your Catalyst Project

Where has your work week gone? Does this year seem like it’s only been 10 months long? Somehow, two months went AWOL at some point. In case you are looking at a desk which resembles an archeological dig, or a calendar that has you triple booked, or design deliverables and sales quotas which you never were going to meet anyway, stop flailing away at everything that’s creating chaos and confusion on your professional radar screen.

Where has the time gone?
Where has the time gone?

Here are five tips for keeping your head focused on what’s important, instead of what’s not.

  1. Take a deep breath. Look towards the horizon. (I am not kidding, do it – unless you are driving and reading this message, in which case, please pull over to the side of the road!). What do you see on the horizon? That’s your  professional goal. That’s where you are supposed to be heading. It’s in your grasp. How much of it is under your control, or not? What can you change to exercise more control over your professional destiny?
  2. What’s the one thing that you need to accomplish before tomorrow,  in order to clear the way to completing all of those other projects? Think about it. There is one major project that needs to be accomplished which will get the rest of the dominoes tipping and clear your path.
  3. Does the work you do in accomplishing that priority project lend itself to your work output for all the rest of the stuff cluttering your desk, calendar, and your mind? I thought so, too. This one project actually has spin-off potential and impacts all the rest of the stuff you need to accomplish to reach your professional goal. This one project is your catalyst project, isn’t it? It’s not an obstacle at all.
  4. How can you leverage your output from your catalyst project into: a) recommendations, b) referrals, c) prospecting, d) branding, e) promotion, f) compensation? That’s the power of understanding the role your catalyst project plays in fulfilling your professional goal.
  5. Is this catalyst project tactical or strategic? You know the answer to that one. You’ve been letting all the short-term stuff clutter your desk, to-do list, and calendar when, in fact, there’s been this strategic project swimming along in the undercurrents. It just won’t go away because it can’t be dismissed: it’s that important to everything else you are trying to accomplish. Stop ticking off stuff on your to-do list, thinking you will “get to” that catalyst project. It’s the one project that provides value-add to all the short-term deliverables on your plate. It’s that powerful.

Identifying a catalyst project is a way of finding the common denominator running across your workload.  It may be a way of changing your professional habits, as well, so that you stop being myopic and start focusing on the bigger picture of what it takes to get from here to there.

Take that deep breath today and give yourself a few moments to refocus and re-prioritize. Find that common thread to all that you do. Then, do it well and leverage your output throughout your entire project load, as well as your career goal.

You’ll find it’s time well spent, and time that is far more efficient and rewarding as well.