Projects and The Day Job


I was having a coffee with a friend of mine recently and we had a conversation that I thought was worth sharing with you.

My friend, (let’s call her Laura which is obviously not her real name) is a senior director in a company with a department of approximately 80 people, and the primary function of the department is selling.

Laura was feeling really agitated when we spoke. She was bemoaning that she had not given time over the previous couple of weeks to a couple of “projects” that she really wanted to undertake. 

As a lifelong student of efficiency, and also just being naturally curious, I asked Laura why she had not “given time” as she said.

Her answer was pretty straightforward, and while these may not have been her exact words, they do reflect the sentiment - she simply said “My day job is so demanding, I did not have the time.”

Me being me, I could not leave it there!

I asked Laura - how important are those 2 projects to the long term success of her role and her department’s success? 

The answer was unequivocal - they are both very important! So, if they had that level of importance why did Laura not make the time to get them done? 

The answer was that the “day” job took over. Laura got so busy doing the routine of the day job that there was no time left for these important pieces of work. 

Now, let’s be honest, it is easy to be critical of Laura, but don’t we all do the same thing - at least now and again? 

You see, at some subconscious level, Laura viewed her two projects as separate from her day job, and therefore something that got done when she found time to “fit” it in. 

No wonder they never got done! 

As I said, easy to be critical, but we are all guilty. 

So what can Laura, and you do to change? 

In simple terms, there are 2 things: 

1.       Shift your mindset - these projects are not separate from your day job, they are your day job. 

2.       Schedule the time. 

You see for as long as our mindset is that these projects are “as well as” our day job, then we try to fit them around everything else - a complete disaster! So, see them as an integral part of what you must do this week, this day! 

If you don’t schedule it, it is unlikely to get done. So, get your diary out and block off time when these projects will get your full attention. Make that time sacrosanct! Give it as much commitment as you would a meeting with your best client. 

Very simple, and very effective - even Laura agreed when I checked in with her a week later!


John A Murphy 
Winning at Business and Life


John Murphy has been running his own consultancy business, John Murphy International, for over 10 years.

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