Spending Major Time on Minor Things


It’s the little things that are important.”  Have you ever been told that before?  I have.  To be completely honest, the way I understood it was totally wrong.  The way I took it is that everything was important and had an equal amount of significance.  Being naïve, I didn’t really grasp what was really being presented to me.  What that saying really meant was, “The little things are important, just not as important as the big things.”


Many times when people try to master the day, they get bogged down in doing medial and mindless things.  Unfortunately, I even find myself doing the mundane tasks that eat away at my productivity.  If I’m not careful, I will get caught up in administrative duties.  Before I realize it, over half the day will be gone and all I’ve accomplished is having a couple excel spreadsheets complete that provide little to no increase in production.  And by the time I finish doing those duties, I am completely exhausted because those tasks are not in my zone of strength.  I have to spend extra energy doing all that mundane busy work because it doesn’t come naturally to me.


I have capable employees to do this type of work, but me being a bit of a control freak, struggled relinquishing control of my busy work.  I feared appearing as if I didn’t do very much.  When I finally delegated my administrative burdens; I became much more productive.  I had time to do the work I was good at and made the most impact.


If you are a leader of any kind, you aren’t paid for your administrative duties, nor are you paid to cut the grass, or answer the phones, or keep the books.  You are paid to LEAD.  At first it may not be a bad idea to do some of the work; so you can know how it’s to be done and how it can be done efficiently, but soon you need to start dropping those tasks from your to do list.  Delegate them out or drop them all together if possible.  There are only a handful of tasks with any job that will make you a standout.  Those are what you should focus on and do MORE of.  Anything else is just spinning your wheels.   LABOR LESS, LEAD MORE.


Do you think a sales manager would care how neat his salesmen’s paperwork was if no one ever signed it?   Do you think it would matter if a doctor had great phone skills, but was lousy at surgery?  What about a racecar driver who had the cleanest vehicle on the track, but never won a race?  It wouldn’t matter at all!  What makes those people valuable is their ability to sell customers, transplant hearts, and win races.   The rest is just busy work.  If you are a “Jack of all Trades”, you will become a master of none.


Darren Hardy tells a story of when he was in real estate.  He determined it was only three things that made him money; pitching a listing, negotiating a deal, and prospecting so he could do more of the first two.  He knew all the putting out signs, open houses, realtor tours, website updating, and paperwork filing were all just work that would make him seem to be working, but really wasn’t accomplishing anything.  He started wearing a stop watch to time how much he actually spent speaking with a prospecting buyer.


I’m not saying you need to go to that extreme unless you feel led to do so.   What I am saying is not to spend MAJOR TIME DOING MINOR THINGS.   The time you spend is valuable.  Don’t waste it.  Don’t major in the minors. 

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16 thoughts on “Spending Major Time on Minor Things

  1. Kerwyn Hodge says:

    That really puts things in perspective, Cranston. The little things do matter; ask anyone who got dressed down because a “little thing” caused a project to fail. Yet, just because it’s important doesn’t mean that you personally have to do it. It just means you’re RESPONSIBLE to see that it’s done. Here’s where delegation comes in, and it’s what separates the real leaders from the wannabes. I touched on that in my “Causes of Leadership Failure” series, and you added another level to things with this post. Thanks for sharing another insightful, practically commentary on modern leadership!

  2. This indeed is one of the important pitfalls for leaders. I believe it has to do with getting out of your comfortzone. It often “safe” to do these little things instead of the more challenging activities.

  3. It is really good to look for mechanisms one can implement to stay involved in major things. Great post!

  4. This is a great post and a reminder of the value of delegation. There’s freedom in it that can’t be understood until it’s been done! Also makes me think of the Tyranny of the Urgent – sometimes we get so caught up in putting out fires that we let the really important things hit the back burner – and stay there. When we’re working primarily in our strengths we are energized and productive!

  5. My boss and I had this discussion the other day, and as I’m moving up what duties we’d need to hire others to take care of for me. He asked if I wanted someone to take over answering phones and emails – and I told him “no, I can do that and it helps me manage better when I know what everyone else is working on and helps me determine when I need to step in. But, the technical writing I do? Our first step is to hire a part time employee for that!” That’s the stuff that bores me and wastes my time as a manager – and he respected that I know my strengths!

  6. Jen says:

    I finally came to the realization the delegating served both me and my employees. It freed me up,to manage (which IS work) and empowered them to make decisions and manage projects.

  7. valuable information – great advice – I shall certainly keep reading

  8. Benjamin 0 says:

    Well done! I use the Title Custodian to represent a basic priority for all leaders, shared to me in words from an executive director, and in actions by several bosses: Clean the Toilets!!! Especially if a “splattering jack”, just left a storm.
    Do you want respect? Who should do the nastiest job?
    I enjoyed your post and it reminded me of the 80/20 rules: 80% of your problems come from 20% of your customers, and 80% of your profits, come from 20% of your customers!
    Dig it! I use the words “petty, and serious”, to define what deserves my attention, and expecting autonomous decisions from all workers, gives a backbone to your delegation.
    Thanks for the food for thought, and the “like” on milove. Check out the TED Talk Video admiration: “Motivation by Mr. Pink”, for more revolutionary leadership principles. 🙂

  9. avisweswara says:

    Sometimes it just hard to ignore the small things and move forward. Especially if a person is emotional!

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