American author Henry David Thoreau once said, ‘It is not enough to be busy; so are ants. The question is: What are we busy about?’ To be truly effective in our work, we need to identify our value, and the activities that will add the most value. We then need to fight for those activities. Fight others who try to steal our time away, and fight our own inertia and procrastination.

Your organisation will probably work with you to help you identify what you need to achieve in your role, and what activities you should focus your time on. This will usually take the form of a performance plan, with goals and objectives, key result areas and key performance indicators (or similar terminology). But your performance plan is at risk of being buried in a drawer somewhere, and may see the light of day only twice a year — just before your performance evaluation meeting with your boss.

This chapter looks at some ways you can identify your value and begin to create a real connection between what you are trying to achieve, and what you are doing day to day. It will help you manage the opportunity cost of what you spend your time on. Let me illustrate the issue.

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