We all love a good mystery, and in my working life one of the greatest mysteries I’ve ever come across is the one called expectations.
I’ve worked at many different levels in many different industries, but what I have found in almost all of them is the mystery of expectations on my time.
I’m not talking about something mystical here, I’m simply talking about the number of tasks that are expected to be completed each day. You have probably experienced it in your life and business. It’s probably one of the reasons many of us moved from employment to self-employment or entrepreneurial roles, to escape from the time vs. expectation debate.
Ironically when we are doing it for ourselves we invariably expect far more tasks in far less time from ourselves than we had in our former employed lives.
Every day as an employee we had a “list” of daily tasks to achieve, and we were indoctrinated to believe that only when all those tasks were completed had we completed a full day’s work.
Obviously in the early days this was fine, as the number of tasks was comparable to the amount of time each day we had to complete them. As with all things though with great power comes great responsibility… as our knowledge and skill grew so did the number of tasks we have to complete each day. However, the amount of time we had to complete those tasks did not correspondingly increase as well.
Leaving the office with the in-tray only half emptied was always looked on as having not managed your time properly to get through everything, but no one ever took into account the fact that for every item you completed and removed, often two or more would be getting added.
In a real sense, daily work tasks and in-trays are all like hydras from the myths of old, cut off one head and two more grow back.
The best lesson we can learn is that in 90% of cases, the tasks we didn’t have time to complete will still be there tomorrow. We can only do our best on a certain number of tasks each day that the available time permits.
As long as we can leave each day satisfied with ourselves, then we have done an honest day’s work and the best we could. That is more than enough…