Do What Matters Most: Lead with a Vision, Manage with a Plan, Prioritize Your Time – Rob Shallenberger, Steve Shallenberger – Berrett-Koehler Publishers – Published 18 May 2021




In researching more than 1,260 managers and executives from more than 108 different organizations, Steve and Rob Shallenberger discovered that 68 percent of them feel like their number one challenge is time management, yet 80 percent don’t have a clear process for how to prioritize their time.

Drawing on their forty years of leadership research, this book offers three powerful habits that the top 10 percent of leaders use to Do What Matters Most. These three high performance habits are developing a written personal vision, identifying and setting Roles and Goals, and consistently doing Pre-week Planning. And Steve and Rob make an audacious promise: these three habits can increase anyone’s productivity by at least 30 to 50 percent. For organizations, this means higher profits, happier employees, and increased innovation. For individuals, it means you’ll find hours in your week that you didn’t know were there–imagine what you could do!

You will learn how acquiring this skillset turned an average employee into her company’s top producer, enabled a senior vice president to reignite his team and achieve record results, transformed a stressed-out manager’s work and home life, helped a CEO who felt like he’d lost his edge regain his fire and passion, and much more. By implementing these simple and easy-to-understand habits, supported by tools like the Personal Productivity Assessment, you will learn how to lead a life by design, not by default. You’ll feel the power that comes with a sense of control, direction, and purpose.

My thoughts

Do What Matters Most has got to be the most helpful leadership, time management and professional improvement book I have read in a long time. Maybe ever. It is full of practical advice that is easy to use and adapt to your professional and personal. Often I finish a professional book and I have a list of all the things I’m going to do to improve my working practice and then I never actually enact anything. After reading Do What Matters Most I am left feeling in control, with a definite plan. I am completely aware of how I will use the tips and skills in this book but even more than that I am also far more aligned with what I need to do in my daily work practice to reach my professional and personal goals. This book has given me the power to enact change. I love it and highly recommend this book.

So many times I have thought that I needed to write down my goals. I had a vague idea in my head of where I was going, but I’d never put it into words. Similarly, there have been many times in my day that I felt I could have achieved more or I haven’t done the important things, instead just getting through a million small emergency fires. Do What Matters Most is all about changing that reactive behaviour into a proactive attitude.

I’d say half of the content in this book is providing evidence that their approach works. For someone who was already on board, I did feel like I could have skipped some of these sections. They are consistently spread throughout the book. For example, you have a chapter on why writing down a vision works before you move into a chapter about actually writing a vision statement. For me, the gold was in the doing chapters. While the evidence is great and the quotes from professionals from all walks of life shows that these practices work, it was more than I needed.

My workplaces have often asked me to write down a professional or learning goal. I’ve also written strategic plans for my school library. Every time, it’s been a hard exercise or felt like I was picking something out of the air or from an isolated viewpoint when what I really needed is a comprehensive assessment. That’s exactly what Do What Matters Most gives you in 3 easy steps.

The first part of the book is all about understanding the Do What Matters Most perspective and approach. It’s about managing your days so that what you are doing is working towards achieving your goals. This part of the book is some of the most inspiration heavy, so few practical exercises and more about taking the mindset on board. There is a Personality Productivity Assessment that you can take and the book makes some big promises.

The book then provides you 3 action points. Write a vision, set goals and start pre-week planning. The book steps you through these points with activities that are really helpful in taking you from a wide vision to how this looks in your weekly planning. There are free templates and tips for how you can make it work for you. I loved that the authors address the personal alongside the professional, so you’ll be writing your personal vision and goals as you write a vision and goals for your work and any other facet of your life. The authors show how using these big three, as they call them, is important across all areas of your life. It also makes it far more impactful.

I’m incredibly impresses with the process this book has led me in in creating my own visions, goals for those visions and started a process of pre-weekly planning. I am planning to share this process with my colleagues and my students. Instead of being daunted by needing to create a goal for my work and submit it to my supervisor, I am ready to go and can talk about both the big picture vision as well as yearly goals.

A note, I had this book as a digital review copy and I struggled to engage with it in a digital format. I would love to have this as a print copy and when I buy it, I’ll be ensuring I purchase it in a print copy – easier to read and engage with the activities and share with my colleagues and students.

Highly impressed. If you read just one book to improve your professional practice make it Do What Matters Most.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

More information

Category:  Non-fiction

Subjects: Work, goal setting, time management, management, productivity, leadership.

Format: Paperback. 192 pages.

Published: 18 May 2021 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers

ISBN: 9781523092574

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