What’s the difference between being a manager and being a non-manager? Obviously, there are myriad answers to that question, but let’s just focus on one: your to-do list.
In entry-level jobs, handling a to-do list is relatively straightforward. Your manager gives you a set of tasks you’re responsible for completing.
Most of them are well-defined and have specific deadlines by which they need to be completed. You have to prioritize your time, and sometimes you have to work late to get everything done. However, it’s possible to get it all done, maybe not every day, but there are some Fridays when you can leave a little early because you really have finished everything you’re supposed to.
As you move into higher levels of responsibility (i.e. project or personnel management), that starts to change. There are fewer and fewer items on your to-do list that are defined tasks with specific deadlines. Instead, your to-do list starts to include things like:
♦ Brainstorm with Jacob about program marketing
♦ Research competing programs for ideas on how to improve
♦ Choose speakers to invite for lectures
Instead of being given tasks and deadlines, you’re increasingly responsible for deciding what needs to be done to move your projects forward and on what sort of timetable. However, this isn’t the biggest change in your to-do list. The biggest change is, since your program could always be improved just a little bit more and you could always experiment with that next great idea, your to-do list will never again be done. Never.
For driven, high-achievers who have succeeded in school and sports and clubs all at the same time, this is a hard truth to come to grips with. It requires a complete mindset change because working harder and getting less sleep doesn’t cut it anymore. Instead, you have to know what your goals are, decide which activities will advance those goals the most, and let a lot of other things stay at the bottom of your to-do list until you find the courage to cross them off, undone.
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