Three Ways to be Effective at Work

Three Ways to be Effective at Work

In any job, we must be as effective as possible. We have a finite amount of resources. Here are three easy steps to exploit those limited resources and boost your effectiveness.

1)  Understanding the Intent and End State:

In the Army, we ask our Soldiers to operate with minimal leadership under extreme conditions. Soldiers accomplish this by understanding the intent and end state of the mission. The shared understanding allows Soldiers to make real-time decisions without having to ask for guidance.  The intent defines what an employee must do to succeed. The end state gives us the desired outcome.

An intent could look something like “Deploy and defeat mosquitos through discipline and persistent application of our capabilities.”

The end state would be “All mosquitos are destroyed with minimal bites sustained.”

By understanding the intent and end state, we can quickly make course changes. We realize we must defeat the mosquitos through our capabilities. We also see the end state of destroying them while sustaining minimal bites.

If we stay within the shared understanding, common roadblocks become easier to handle.


2)   Writing Tasks Down:

I remember watching the TV show called Psych. The main character of the show has a photographic memory and can rapidly recall details. While we all don’t have this ability, we can have the same effect.

Every morning I start with a fresh piece of paper. I start listing the previous day’s tasks I did not get to. Then I write down the tasks for the new day. When I write my tasks, I make sure to write the implied errands as well. For example:

-    Vacation to Arizona

o    Hotel

o    Rental

o    Airline Tickets

o    Leave Form

Once I complete a task, I cross it out.  By crossing out the smaller tasks it, allows me to see progress towards the larger picture. These task lists can be utilized as supporting documents for evaluations as well.

3)   Time is not Linear:

While in Afghanistan we were charged with taking down eight wooden buildings. I had forty Soldiers and a stable of equipment to complete my mission. Early on we attempted to focus a building at a time.

We quickly learned, focusing on one building at a time was slowing us down. We couldn’t take down the structure until the minimal tasks were completed. It was taking too long to pull out all the wiring, panels, sheetrock, etc. We decided to push Soldiers into other building to start stripping the wiring, while others worked on different duties. These Soldiers knocked out easy tasks, which gave opened time for more critical pieces.  

I learned by working ahead on smaller tasks frees up time. Those tasks may not be due right away, but working on them now gives you that time later.

Next project you tackle, find the smaller tasks and knock them out right away. You will find I did in Afghanistan, it frees resources to focus on critical items.


These are three ways to boost your effectiveness at work. I hope to see you on the path...