Perhaps your experience with working during these trying times has been different than mine, but I have found myself and my time being pulled in many different directions, not always to my desires. I start something that I want to do but then I get sidetracked, and then sometimes sidetracked from my sidetrack. All of these tasks require different levels of attention and different personal and professional skills. Soon I have forgotten what I set out to do at the outset and my day is out of control. I find that I get sidetracked more now than pre-pandemic because there have been so many changes in the lives of the people that I interact with on a frequent basis.
Your Core Competency
Though it may not relate directly to your current plight, one way for you to prioritize tasks is to understand your “core competency”, meaning that thing or those things that you are best at. Prioritize and complete the tasks that require you to use your core competency and either delegate out everything else to others or complete them yourself once you get done what you are good at. This is a way to take control of your life when you feel like it is spiraling out of control. Do what you can do and leave the rest to others, if that is possible. Easier said than done.
Financial Planning Example
Understanding your own core competency is the first step in building a good working relationship with a financial planner. Let’s say you are really good at organizing information but not as good at big-picture goal setting or strategizing how to reach your goal. This is a perfect set-up for working with a financial planner because a financial planner needs a set of well-organized bank and brokerage statements as well as tax returns and other pertinent information prior to getting started on the financial plan. The better the information going into the plan, the better the plan will be. You as the client should choose their planner based on the planner’s core competencies, and hopefully they will complement your competency.
What if you aren’t so good with organization but still wish to work with a planner? Perhaps you can delegate the statement-keeping to a spouse or a family member who is a little more organized. It may cost you but the cost would be worth it if it leads to a better financial plan.
Good At Nothing
What if you don’t feel like you are particularly adept at any one part of the financial planning process? Well, at least you are good at recognizing your own shortcomings. In that case, hopefully you are good at getting up and going to work every day. If so, you are also probably good at following directions and completing tasks at work. You really can delegate all of the financial planning tasks. All you have to do is do what the financial planner asks of you. You can still have a good, achievable financial plan without having any real skill in the process. That is, if you work with a good financial planner that you like and trust.
Working During the Pandemic
What about my example of how difficult I find it to complete tasks during this pandemic? How can one use their core competency to feel like they have achieved something while being pulled in different directions? My suggestion is to drill down on what you really believe is your core competency. Rather than think in terms of a specific technical skill (such as writing, art, spreadsheeting, or something like that), take a step back and figure out what personal or interpersonal skills that you like that go into those technical skills. Perhaps you like and are good at relating to people, or you have a good level of focus at a particular time. Use those personal skills as a way to organize and take control of your tasks. You will feel better about yourself and you will accomplish more if you work according to your core competencies.
It is very difficult to keep control over one’s life. I believe this has become even more difficult during this pandemic because people are continuing to work at home and their “work” and “home” lives become blurred. Perhaps you even have children also trying to do their school from home, to complicate matters even more. Being able to understand your core competency is the first step to taking the control that you need. Perhaps you should buy a copy of “Now, Discover Your Strengths” by the Gallup Organization – it is a short read with a quiz just for you to help you determine your core competencies. Or not, but it is very important for your own success to figure out what you are good at if you want to accomplish something.