Blog 006 – Get Clarity First Thing In The Day – At Work

Wow, there is a lot of value in this post. Get ready to have absolutely amazing work days with this process. Share it with your friends and co-workers.  This is an amazing tool to have your team implement each morning.  Their clarity first thing in the workday is your ticket to better results… Enjoy.


To get anything in life, you need a plan. The plan needs to be something you trust. How do you get to a plan that you trust? You need to start with a simple plan and tweak. In order to minimize the number of times you need to tweak, that first simple plan needs to have some thought in it. So, if you want clarity first thing in the day – at work, you need a plan. So lets start with a simple plan and you can tweak it.


There is only one thing you need to get clarity on. Just one thing, that’s it. Are you ready for the answer? It “Expectations”. That’s it. The only thing you need clarity on is what are the “Expectations” on you. Simple, isn’t it?

Managing Made Simple is all about a system that is simplistic in nature. Simple, isn’t it? Why did we say all you need to define is “Expectations”? Have you every had some talk to you and when they were done and walked away you thought to yourself… were they expecting us to do something? So we came to the conclusion that the only thing we need clarity on is what is “Expected” of us.

Some examples of “Expectations”;

  • Hey, can you have that report on my desk by Friday?” –”Expectation”of us.

  • I need you to look after the marketing of the new gadget.” –”Expectation”of us.

  • Clean up the office boardroom before the meeting.” –”Expectation”of us.

  • I need to make sure I maximize my work day.” –”Expectation”on us … by us.

This one word, “Expectation”, is all you need clarity on. “Expectations” are the cornerstone of the Managing Made Simple System, because it is the cornerstone of everyone’s to do lists. It’s like the bulls eye on a target. We need to know the bulls eyes we have to hit. We need to know the “Expectations” on us by the end of the work day.


So, we already defined you need to know all the “Expectations” of you. Now all you need is some place to write those “Expectations” down (in paper or electronic format). The other really important thing is you also need to set some time away to define clarity.

So, if you have those two items you have all the tools to get clarity on your “Expectations”.

  • Place to write “Expectations” down

  • Time to do the Clarity process


There are numerous places to find “Expectations”. Here is where you start with this plan and tweak it. Here is a list, use it over the next couple of weeks, and add new places to the list of “Expectations” of you.

  • Phone messages

  • Email inbox(es)

  • Paper inbox(es)

  • Lists you keep

  • Folders in your office

  • Notes written in your office

  • Calendar

  • In your head

As you can see, there can be numerous places that could house the “Expectations” of you. As you find new places that could house these “Expectations”, add them to your list.

Now the place In your head” is an interesting place. Seriously. Why you may ask? Well we have this idea that if we have something to remember, it will stay in your head and be readily accessible at a future date. The funny thing is, the complete opposite is true. We like to call this the “mind has a sense of humour”. Have you ever tried to remember doing something, only to have the date the thing was supposed to be done for pass, then the mind said… “Hey, you for go to do …..!” Sometimes it is a small item, pick up milk at the store, and other times it’s a lot larger, pick up the son from daycare 🙂. David Allen, from Getting Things Done, coined it this way “the mind is for having ideas, not holding them”. . If you keep repeating that phrase “ the mind is for having ideas, not holding them” the only logical step to do is “write it down”.

So, if you want to make sure that you have all the “Expectations” in front of you to get “Get Clarity First Thing In The Day – At Work”, don’t use your mind for storing ideas. Write it down ASAP and put it somewhere like your inbox. This is not only a great tip for anyone, but it is also a principle of Managing Made Simple. Get the stress out. By writing all of the “Expectations” of you down and putting it somewhere that you will be able to look at it later, you now have control over your “Expectation” list. If you put it in your paper or email inbox(es) you always remember them.


Now that you have all of the “Expectations” of you in front of you, write them down on your paper or electronic device. If you like spreadsheets, you can type them down and can re-sort them later. Remember, they are only the “Expectations” on you for that day. If the “Expectation” on you is not due till next week, but you need a number of days to do it, then you have an “Expectation” on you to work on it over those number of days. If today is one of those days to get some of it done, then you have and “Expectation” on you, by you… so write it down.

Now that you have them all written down, you will probably feel less stressed because you are not worried that you are forgetting something. You may also look at your list and begin to get stressed out at the size of your list. Increasing stress. So, what do we need to do to lower your stress? Get in more control! That is the Managing Made Simple way. Let’s show you how.


Now this is where the process needs you. The effort you put into these next steps will be evident in your results at the end of these steps. Remember, YOU are doing this for YOU. So let’s get started.

Step 1 – Rank Your “Expectations”

Look at your list of “Expectations” you just made. Rank them by what is the most important “Expectations”. Now you will have to make the decision of “what is most important”. It could be ranked by the deadline date. It could be ranked by who the “Expectation” is from (ie. your boss vs your employees vs your customers vs time in the day that it is due). Your ranking may be a combination of them. Once you are done, your list, from top to bottom, will show the order of when to do things.

You can rank them by numbering them on your paper, or if you are comfortable in using a spreadsheet, number them in another cell, then sort the list by the number column. Here is a link to a Youtube video to quickly show you how to sort a column in Excel .

Once you are done, you should have a ranked list of “Expectations” you need to get done by the end of the day.

Step 2 – Define the Resources You Need … Even Your Time

In Managing Made Simple, Resource Clarity is a key principle. It is a principle that will be defined in a later blog and podcast. In short, in order to have a result that meets the “Expectation”, you need steps and tools (resources). You need to be clear on what resources you have available to get the steps done. You can’t do a steps that depends on a resource is the resource is unavailable, can you?

Quickly define what resources you need to do the job. You won’t need to define all the items, just those things that you don’t have access to when you need it. For Example

  • If you need Bill to help out, write it down as you have to make sure you can get Bill when you need him.

  • If you need a piece of equipment that is also available to others, you will need to note that down.

  • If you need some information that you don’t readily have, note that down and maybe who may have that information

Write down these resources beside the “Expectations”.

Hey, did you know that your time is a resource? It is. It’s one of the most important resources you have. Unfortunately, you cannot buy more. Once it is gone, its gone forever. So, in order to get clarity – at work, you need to define all your time in your resource list.

You need to be clear that you have time available to do your tasks. Because your time is a resource that is very valuable to you, you should think of your time as currency. Each minute and hour has an important value to you. Compare the value of your time to the value of money when you are buying something. Being able to buy something at half price allows that money to go twice as far, right? The same is for the currency of time. The more you can squeeze out of your time, the more you can get done in the same hour. Making your time go twice as far, three times as far, orders of magnitude as far.

Here is a tip to put you time into a currency. Allocate your time into segments. 10 minute segments, 15 minute, or 30 minute. Keep your entire day defined by the same segments. ie. all 10 min segments, all 15 minute segments. Therefore, if something take you 10 minutes, its like saying it costs 10 dollars. 1 minute = 1 dollar.

Allocate all of the “Expectations” you want to get done by the end of the day with what you think is the appropriate time segments to be able to produce the results expected. For example, a meeting you have with someone else will need 30 minutes, you designate 3 – 10 minute segments.

Keep allocating time for all of your “Expectation” until you run out of time, like running out of money when shopping.

So now you have finished allocating all the time you have in the day to your “Expectations”. How does your list look? If you are ok with everything else not getting done by the end of the day that is great, you have your clarity for the day.


Step 3Do You Have Some “Expectations” Left After All The Time Is Spent?

Do you still have “Expectations” left that you need to complete by the end of the day? In this system, you only need look at only 3 things to try and get all you “Expectations” done by the end of the day. That’s it. That’s the Managing Made Simple system.

The three things are;

  • Revise the Steps to get the “Expectation” done,

  • Revise the Resources to get the “Expectation” done, and/or

  • Renegotiate the “Expectation”

Revising the Steps

This step needs you to go back and re work the time for each “Expectation”. Maybe that meeting on your “Expectations” list can be a little more focused and only take 10 minutes, instead of 30. Is there anything you can send before-hand (adding a step) to the meeting participants so they are up to speed on your ideas before the meeting? If so, and that will bring your meeting to 10 minutes, you just did the same as buying a jacket that was originally $30 for only $10. You now have $20 more… or in this case 20 minutes more. Great feeling. Spend that money on the next “Expectations” on your list.

Revise the Resources

If there is no opportunity to minimize the time to the “Expectations” on your list, can you use another resource to help you? For example, can you delegate something to another member of your team (another person added is another resource for you to use)? Maybe the meeting on your list could be attending by another member of your team. Your time spent could be to define the “Expectations” you have for the end of the meeting (there’s that word again… “Expectation”). If there is someone to attend that meeting in your place, and it takes you only 5 minutes to define your “Expectations” to that person, you just spent 5 minutes and have 25 minutes left to spend elsewhere. Great Feeling.

Renegotiation the “Expectation”

If you have “Expectations” that still need to be done by the end of the day, and you have run out of time, you may have to re-negotiate the deadline with the person/group that has the expectation. Re-negotiating is a powerful tool to have at your disposal. You can not only ask for the deadline to be revised, you can also ask if the “Expectation” can be redefined so you can get it done in the time you have available. By renegotiating after you have tried to revise the steps and resources, you can show that you have completed a number of steps to find ways of meeting the goal with all of the resources you have, before renegotiating. By already allocating all of your time, you have considerable control in supporting the need to re-negotiate the expectation.

Time is the one thing that does not magically appear. You have to manage it.

If you re-negotiated the “Expectation” to now be able to get it done by the end of the day, or move it to another day, you now have clarity. Great Feeling.


This is a common question, the “doesn’t sound simple” part. The reality is, this process is very simple for those who have done it a number of time. They take this initial plan, and tweak it and tweak it and tweak it until they make it their own. The acceptance of this process is at the end of the day when they go home for the day and are impressed at how the day went. Then the next day they are impressed how the day went. And the following day it happens again. It’s at that point the process sells itself. Everyday the process is done, they get quicker and quicker and quicker at doing the process.

Every new process takes longer when started, and even longer to explain in a blog (3000+ words long ;)). The more you do it, the more you become proficient at it. The more you become proficient at it, the more control you get. The more control you get, the better results you get. The better the results you get, the lower your stress goes. Did you hear that? THE LOWER THE STRESS GOES!


Managing Made Simple is a process to lower stress and increase control. Starting your office morning out with this process gets you in control. It provides clarity to your day. It identifies which “Expectation” are going to be addressed today and how much time you can allocate to it.

When others ask for you time during the day, you will be able to quickly conclude whether or not you have the resource of time to help them out (taking the stress out of saying ‘no’). If you are questioned as to why you cannot help out, you can easily defend your answer. You can let them know what gets affected on your list today if you use up some of your time to help others.


Many managing responsibilities include being available to the team. You will already have a good idea on how many 10 / 15 / 30 minute segments you usually get interrupted in the day, so just put that in as an “Expectation” when you write them down.

Tip – Here is a tip you can incorporate with your team. See if you can put a certain amount of time away during the day where they don’t come and interrupt you unless it is critical. This tip can pay you back incredible dividends. Here’s why. Many people will come and ask others for answers instead of looking it up for themselves because they conclude the answer will be quicker. Unfortunately, they do not realize that they are now interrupting someone else to get that answer. So if you classify, for example, 40 – 60 minutes as “uninterrupted” time where you can only be interrupted for critical issues, you will be able to address some of those “Expectations” without interruption. This may result in you getting it done in less time that you originally thought.


Imagine being asked to drive on a bridge where you know the workers just started doing work and there was no planning, no defining of what should be done and when. There is no way we would even considering driving on it. Yet millions of people show up to their job every day, sit down and just start working. No process to define what their day should look like and why. Would you want to work on a team like that?

You get out of managing what you put in. It’s just that simple. Doing this process first thing in the morning, or as some like to do, do it at the end of the day to set up the next day, is simple. It provides incredible results. When you first start doing this, it will take longer because you are just starting out. It will get quicker. Considerably quicker. And here is the great thing about it. Your Stress Goes Down. All because you are in control of your day.

Let’s hear your feedback. Post your comments below, or send them to use through the Contact Us page.

Till We Meet Again Next Week…

Managing Made Simple


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.