Big projects, small favours: Boost your work reputation by nailing the extremes

Want to be known as dependable and great at your job? Focus on the big and the small tasks.

People notice when that critical project is struggling. They also notice when you promise a small favour but take forever to deliver.

It’s tempting to tackle the medium tasks first. The small ones can wait until later. But suddenly it’s the end of the day and they’re not done.

And the big projects feel overwhelming, so you wait for the perfect time to start. Which never arrives.

So you spend most of your time on those hour-long tasks, neglecting the day-long ones and the 10 minute favours.

I’ve fallen into this trap. But I’ve learned that to be seen as reliable and effective, you need to prioritise the big and the small and get them done first.

Break up that big, daunting project into a bunch of different tasks and treat them as totally separate pieces of work.

When someone asks for a quick favour, do it quickly. So create time in your calendar. Choose one of the below:

  • 5-10 minutes every hour.
    • A good cadence if you like a ‘break’ every so often and can pick up right where you left off after the 5-10 minutes are over.
  • 10-20 minutes 3 times a day.
    • 11:00, after you’ve finished your 09:00-11:00 focus period.
    • 13:30, after lunch when your energy is low.
    • 16:45, right before the end of the day. Your desire to be done for the day will mean you will do those tasks fast.
  • 45-60 minutes once a day.
    • Do it in the post-lunch crash.

The medium tasks won’t make or break your reputation. But nailing the big projects and small details? That’s how you become the go-to person at work.

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