The story of a day in the life of an unsuccessful office worker

10:55am Deal with the small issues first

In order to work in a truly effective manner, your mind must be free to focus on big picture issues and key priority tasks. 

As an accountant, I prefer to clear up small accounting issues first. Then, I can later deal with larger and more important issues without distraction. 

This provides me with the justification I need to spend the next hour with the ladies in the credit department. 

Located on the ground floor, the credit department has twenty-nine staff, consisting of four males and twenty-five females. Of the female staff, nineteen are aged under thirty five, eleven are unmarried and I must say that some of these women are, well, rather attractive.  

I will make any excuse to ‘have to’ go down there. 

This morning, I have three customer payments which I ‘need’ to follow up ‘urgently’ in order to account for them correctly in the monthly financial reports. 

The three payments in question represent an aggregate value of four hundred and fifteen dollars and nineteen cents.  

I have other accounting issues worth about $8 million to resolve before finalizing the first draft of the monthly management reports - due tomorrow night. Given this, one might suggest that I should leave the Credit Department issues and focus on resolving issues of greater financial importance.  

I disagree. It’s better to deal with these to small issues first. Later, I can focus on more important issues without distraction. 

Accordingly, I have complete justification to spend the next hour chatting up the ladies in the credit department whilst I pretend to look for forms relating to the customer payments in question.


  1. November 24th, 2007 | 11:38 am

    Hi Andrew…

    This is a great post from u. Regardless of which department in your workplace u are posted to, it is always best that u settle the smaller issues first. As u mentioned, this can avoid unnecessary distractions when u are trying to resolve bigger issues. And after all, since smaller issues are easier to handle and less time consuming, they ought to be resolved first. In that way, u will find yourself having more than enough time allocated to settle the bigger issues.

  2. November 24th, 2007 | 1:51 pm

    Hi NAFA,

    Thank you for visiting my blog and for your very kind feedback.

    Although this post is tongue in cheek, I do seriously believe that tackling the small issues first is an effective method of time management.

    You raise the point that small issues are often easier, simpler and less time consuming than bigger picture issues. Where this is the case, I think that dealing with the smaller issues and accomplishing easier tasks quickly can also help to build a sense of accomplishment, which can lead to greater energy and enthusiasm in dealing with the bigger picture issues.

    A possible counter-argument to this is that it is easy to get bogged down and spend too much time on small picture issues. Small picture issues, in my opinion, should never be allowed to take your focus off big picture issues.

    In addition, when dealing with small picture issues, I think it’s important to ask ourselves whether indeed we need to do these tasks at all. It may be possible for the tasks in question to be outsourced, delegated or possibly not done at all if they are not important.

    So, I believe that easier, simpler tasks should be accomplished first, provided they do not take the focus off more important tasks.



    P.S. I mentioned ‘delegation’ above. This is obviously not an option for the fictional character in my story. He has no subordinates and people delegate to him, not the other way around!

  3. November 25th, 2007 | 3:16 am

    I agree. Clear the decks, then it’s smooth sailing on the big stuff.

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