Details: The little things that make the big thing happen

Whether you’re managing a small business or leading a downtown organization or other non-profit, there are three things you definitely are every single day: busy, busy and busy. And what are you busy with? Details? You might be concerned about the color scheme of your window display or how to update your Facebook page in between meetings, but it’s always something, isn’t it?

These tiny details are so important to every organization, but they

have two major downfalls: 1) their endlessness can be overwhelming and 2) they can keep your focus off the “big things” and “big ideas” that make good organizations become great. So how does one manage these tiny tasks that must be done without getting lost in them?

Here’s a handy, two-part trick: develop your mission statement and make sure everything on your to-do list is working toward it. That’s it. That’s all there is to it.

Why? Because when you know why you’re doing something, it’s less overwhelming. For example, if your mission is to be the premiere interior design firm in your area, perfecting the color scheme in your window display may be a small task, but it is no small deal. If your mission is to feed the hungry, maybe it is “too small” a task for your time because it doesn’t match your mission.

And what about squeezing in the time to update your Facebook page in between important meetings? If you’re a downtown organization and your mission is to give residents and visitors a constant stream of reasons to come to your district, communication is of the utmost importance. Squeezing that Facebook update in might be just as important as the relationships you’re building in all those meetings.

When you’re thinking about your mission, even paying your property taxes can seem less of a task. After all, you’re paying for your ability to operate your business, receive police and fire protection – and hopefully great economic development support from your local government – and that’s definitely worth paying for, right?

Small tasks are most of what we do. But if every single time you sit down – or stand up – to accomplish a task, you think, “How will this work toward my mission?” three things will suddenly become clear:

a) Whether or not you really need to do it;

b) How much time you should spend on it; and

c) Most importantly, why you’re doing it.

Suddenly, some things fall off your list and others become a lot more satisfying. Even sweeping the floor and writing job descriptions are exciting, because these tasks are marching you toward your long-term goals. And what better reason could there be for doing anything?

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