I want to talk to you today about the most important lesson I teach.
I get asked this all the time. “Ed, you have so many messages, so many blog posts, and so many videos. If you had to boil down your teaching to just one thing, what’s the one that is your signature?”
The one I love the most, the one I think is the most fundamental to effectiveness, is quite simply, “Plan your work, and work your plan.”
Plan your work, and work your plan. They go together. There are just three little words: plan your work. And then put them in reverse: work your plan.
Now where did I get this? I didn’t come up with this on my own.
This is something that was taught by Dr. Stephen Covey. In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he talks about beginning with the end in mind and putting first things first. This is all about prioritization, being in touch with who you want to be, who you are, what your big rocks are, and what will define success for you in a given time period – whether it’s a day, a week, a month, a year, or the rest of your life.
You really have to think about that. Put some thought, prayer, and real self-discovery into answering that question.
- What do I want to be?
- Who do I want to be?
- What do I want to be known for?
- What are my values and principles?
- What are the most important things for me to get done today?
Regardless of the time period, put the time in to plan your work.
And then, once you’ve created a plan that is in alignment with your highest purpose, execute the plan.
I don’t do this from memory. I use a tool I call My Daily Edge. You can download your free My Daily Edge PDF from the sidebar on this page. I have a pad of these that I use literally every single day.
I came up with that name, but where did I get it? It’s about staying sharp. It’s about staying focused on the things that are most important.
What is the seventh habit of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People? It is “Sharpen the Saw”. Dr. Covey used a metaphor, where you are the saw. So if you want to keep your daily edge – keep your saw sharp – then use something like My Daily Edge.
On My Daily Edge, I capture the following every day:
- I put my big rocks – my highest goals.
- And I also note the smaller rocks – things that are important, but not as important.
- I ask each day: What contacts do I need to make today?
- I review the buckets of life, the so-called “wheel of life”. What are my plans as it pertains to those areas of my life today?
- And then I create a thumbnail sketch of when things fit in time.
It is a really, really a useful tool for being your best – and for being your most effective.