During my two years as Managing Director at Techstars, I had the opportunity to witness first-hand how extremely busy people organize their time.
Techstars relies on a proven system for helping entrepreneurs focus on what moves the needle. Every week, each CEO of the class defines objectives for her company. Some people call those “big rocks”, others call it goals. It does not matter as long as they are clearly defined items that can be completed within a week.
What struck me is that, week after week and year after year, every CEO of every class would fall into the same traps.
Essentially, they start the week by defining the objectives of the week. As the week unfolds, they meet people (mentors, investors etc.) who introduce them to other people who they deem would likely be helpful. The entrepreneur contacts these new people and set up meetings, using the first time available.
Before you know it the week has passed and it is time to review the work every team has been able to accomplish to move the needle they had defined earlier.
And every time the result was the same: 70% of the pre-defined objectives had not been accomplished.
What is interesting is that, knowing that the objectives defined at the beginning of the week were the most likely to have an impact on the progress of their company, most of the CEOs decided to prioritize meeting with someone without any guarantee that this would yield any result.
The issue comes mainly from the fact that all meetings automatically end up in your calendar because that is how they get scheduled. However, the tasks you define as priorities do not get the attention they deserve because those usually live in another system: project management tool, stickers, a sheet of paper or else.
It is Tuesday morning and you have a bit of time. You decide to take a look at your priorities for the week.
By far, your main objective is to write a draft for a future partnership. Quickly assessing the task, you gauge that this task should take you about 3 hours. You start to wonder if you should start working on this task right away.
You also notice that one of the tasks from the previous week had not been done. Thinking about it quickly, you realize that it is not as important as before but that it would be nice if it were done.
What would you do with those two tasks?