Too many professionals allow the nonessential to seep into their lives.  These nonessentials seem trivial at first, but the toll quickly adds up.  

There are three main ways this happens:

Nonessential tasks.  

These are the things we do that others are responsible for, but we are unable to delegate effectively due to trust or other issues. These tasks are ‘beneath our pay grade,’ but we do them out of comfort and the sense of having control over them. Getting these tasks done may FEEL great, but it does little to add to the success of what we should be doing.

Nonessential “contributors”

These are the people who strap-hang on to our projects but do little (or nothing) overall to contribute to their success. Don’t get me wrong; they show up to every meeting (especially if they are remote and looking to prove how engaged they are).  

They attend every conference call (even though they typically have nothing to add).  

However, they have little to no value when it comes to the success of the project or operation.

Nonessential meetings

Data shows the average American executive spends about half their 40-hour work week in meetings.  In a five-day work week, they spend about 4 hours (of their scheduled 8-hour day) in meetings.  

It’s difficult to tell your managers, supervisors, and bosses that you shouldn’t attend some (or most) of those meetings, but there’s an easy way to start.  

Have them provide you with their clear priorities for your work.  You want them to be clear on what is essential for the success of your role.  

If the meetings help you achieve those priorities, by all means, you should attend.  If they don’t help you, you can always be caught up on the meeting notes and highlights via email or collaboration app (MS Teams, Basecamp, monday.com, Notion, or others).


This is especially important for remote workers.  We can all agree that working from home has its challenges and many (many) distractions.  

I’ve worked from home for over four years and would be hard-pressed to return to a traditional office environment.  It isn’t conducive to how I get things done.  

Too many people drop by to ‘see how things are going.’  Too many social visits at the cost of my productivity.   Too many… well, you get the idea.  

I also hate just the thought of a commute of any length.

If you are like me and love working from home, it is imperative that you crush your assignments and win each day. Not doing so quickly leads to calls to ‘return to the office’ with all the commute, food prep, and more.  

I work best when I am free to be deliberate and intentional about what tasks I undertake and when I undertake them.  

But (and of course, there is a but), you must first understand your operational environment.  I didn’t start my career with the ability to set my own hours and work the way I wanted.  I grew to it.  So will you.  

But you must be deliberate as you set the path for the change you want enacted. 


It’s a common belief that 30% of all projects worldwide fail due to poor communication.  

Read that again, and then take a moment to understand how stupid that is. 

We have the ability to communicate more easily and comprehensively now than we’ve had at any point in history.  I joke that even my watch can make phone calls.  

But, alas, communication isn’t occurring.  

People don’t want to be the bearer of bad news.  They don’t want to say ‘no’ to the boss’s ‘good idea.’  They don’t want to be viewed as not being a ‘team player.’  

Whatever the reason, they don’t communicate.  And this lack of communication is killing your efforts and your organization.

A great way to communicate more effectively is by owning your calendar (with the caveat that you put the essentials there to protect your time).

It’s much easier to say no to an impromptu or ad hoc meeting when you have time scheduled for something that’s actually essential to your success.

When you own your time and understand what’s essential, it’s much easier to skip the non-essential tasks you waste copious amounts of time on.

Being deliberate takes focus.  That’s the bad news.

The good news is that once you start being intentional in what you do and how you do it, you will be able to own both your calendar AND your life.