#WhatWorks Are You In or Out? A System to Decide

Liz Presson • 26 November 2014

When we want to accomplish so much it’s easy to find ourselves over committed, or just committed to the wrong things—at least I know that’s true for me. I easily see opportunities and get excited about making ideas happen.

Because I appreciate the opportunity in so many things, I also have a hard time saying no. What’s got me there over the last few months is the not so subtle realization that great work cannot happen when I have one foot in the door and the other out.

I love Arianna Huffington’s saying: “Life is a dance between making it happen and letting it happen. I do my 10% 100%.”

10% —that’s what we have to work with, the rest is up to fate. There’s no choice but to choose wisely.

For me, it wasn’t enough to just say I’d do it. I needed a system to visualize what opportunities I’m saying yes and no to.

So, I created a Google spreadsheet to process clients, projects and work relationships. At the top of the spreadsheet I have short-term goals, 90-day goals and the big picture. Under those goals, I have four columns labeled in this order: In, Needs Processed, Out, and In the Hands of the 90%. Then, I process anything that’s taking a significant amount of time, energy or brain space. I use it constantly, and I suggest it to the people I’m working with too (managers, this is great for employees).

Grab the spreadsheet here and make it your own.

Holding myself accountable to the process this week meant waking up, getting ready, putting on my favorite dress and driving to my old office. I walked in, took down the photos and magazine cutouts, emptied my desk drawers and erased the white boards. Before I turned out the lights, I took my name off of the door and stepped out—this time with both feet, not just one.

That’s what it looks like to move something from the “needs processed” column to the “out” column. And damn, it feels good.

The #WhatWorks series.

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