Does this happen to you? You have a project to do. Let’s say for the purpose of our example, it is a writing project. You have it on your to do list. And then you say, “I need to get some of these smaller to do’s done first.” Or, “I need to get my desk clean.” Or “I actually am not in the mood for writing - I need to “get ready” to write! What happens? You never get to writing!
I can think of every excuse – not to do what is good for me – my business – my clients.
This “getting ready” tendency may be something we all deal with, isn’t it? Unlike a quick to do list, these longer-term projects some time, some effort, and uninterrupted concentration. We don’t get that immediate gratification and yet, truth be told, if we don’t do some of these activities, we may not be as effective as we would like to be. If you suffer from the “getting ready” mentality, here’s an idea:
Hold yourself accountable. There is something powerful when we tell others – either through writing or through spoken words – what our intentions are. I have an accountability group of two other professional speakers where we create our goals with specific target dates. Your accountability may be with a friend, a co-worker, a spouse, a significant other.
Over the course of the next month, I’ll be celebrating the achievement of writing 20 new BLOG postings! What about you?
As an entrepreneur, many of my days are filled with client commitments, meetings, training preparation, client proposals, writing Blog entries, and doing bookkeeping… I could go on and on. To some extent, every day is different, depending upon if I’m in the office or working with a client. However, the more that I work in my business (and on my business); the more and more value I see in establishing and maintaining some sort of routine. Without systems or processes or “rules”, I can forget important things! Checklists are also an easy way to remember what needs to be done – even for those tasks that we are pretty comfortable with. Regardless if you are a small business owner, individual contributor, or team leader, these checklist ideas may help you reduce your stress and increase your workplace efficiency:
- Write a checklist for those tasks you do frequently. For example, when I prepare for a training program, I need to do several things, including, discover training needs, write an outline, create participant materials, develop slides, and design customized case studies. With checklists, I can estimate how long these activities will take – which helps me plan more effectively.
- Review your checklists with others. A friend and colleague in the training field will be sending me her checklist – I may want to incorporate some of her ideas in my process. I will send her my checklist!
- Update your checklist as needed. Sometimes certain activities can be automated, or delegated to an assistant or even assigned to a team member, or even deleted altogether! Other times, we need to add important tasks to our checklists. Be sure to update your checklist – deleting or adding items as needed.
You can experience more freedom (and carve out more time) when you follow checklists - enabling you to focus on creative brainstorming - something that many of us never seem to get around to doing!
Our lives are saturated with voices – from the media, from the papers, television, ipads, emails, cell phones, friends, family, and our spouse or significant others….I could go on, couldn’t I? Some of these voices are well-meaning and have our best interests in mind. Some of the voices are impersonal – not for us necessarily – and yet their messages can impact us either positively or negatively.
If you are not achieving all that you would desire- take a look at – or take a listen at – who you are getting most of your information. Who are you most listening to? Even well-meaning people can tell us things that can take us further away from our goals and dreams.
And if you feel that your thoughts are mostly negative – reevaluate where you getting most of your information. Bad news sells in the news so if you are spending most of your time listening to the news – you may need to step away from that source.
If you talk with most successful people, you will find that there is a thread of intentionality in their life. Be deliberate in your goal setting and intentional in your planning. Most experts in their field have focused their efforts on one topic – and in a year –they have built a credible niche. As you write your goals for the New Year, think about what goals will truly help you get to where you want to go. Dream big. What would you like to be doing next year at this time? What goals can help drive you where you want to go? What are some ways you can be more focused this year? Perhaps you need to look at your schedule and drop some things out that may be keeping you more distracted than focused.
As Anthony Robbins said, “Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.”
In November of last year, I joined another master mind group. I am such a big fan of master mind groups because they provide the needed accountability to help me accomplish what I need to for moving my business (and life) forward. A master mind group is a community who provide support and accountability. The individuals don’t need to belong to your industry but who share your intentionality to achieve. Most effective master mind groups have the following elements:
- Regular meetings (once a week. Twice a month)
- Clear expectations (fines for not writing your goals, fines for not accomplishing your goals, fines for missed meetings)
- Committed individuals who are supportive.
From one my master mind buddies:
I just wanted to say how stoked I am to be part of your Mastermind group! I can really feel it – we are going to move ground this year! Wahoo! I so look forward to working with both of you and watching our business explode in 2012! We are really going to rock!
I want you to know that regardless of how 2011 was for you and your business, take a moment today to bless it and let it go. I wish you a very prosperous, wildly successful and joyful 2012!
With support like this – how can we not be successful!
Think about the last goal that you achieved that you truly were happy about. How much energy and passion did you have around that goal? It is a lot easier to achieve goals when we have a sense of excitement and passion around them.
The first step in creating successful goals is to wrap them around your passion and interests. Certainly, there will be some goals where you just need to achieve them. But even those – I encourage you to look for creative ways to link your passion, energy, and your interests. The goals that you have a better chance of achieving are the ones where you are passionate. Here are some examples of my goals that are linked with my passions:
I want to be healthy and I love to swim! My goal for 2012 is to swim 4-5 times a week.
I love to read! I want to be more intentional about reading and my goal is to read 2 books a month.
I love my husband! We will continue our date nights since this are a practical way to keep our love alive.
How about you? What are you passionate about?
We are 15 days into 2012 – how is your year going so far? Have you had an opportunity to create new plans and goals for the New Year? Before you sit down and develop your new plans – take a look at your last year. It is great to start a new year with a clean slate – but even greater if you don’t relive last year’s mistakes. Just like that old song, “Make new friends but keep the old…one is silver and the other is gold…” we can carry over things that worked and use the momentum of our accomplishments – to help us catapult our 2012! Here are 3 helpful strategies to review your last year:
- Celebrate your Successes. What goals did you accomplish? What do you think was instrumental in your achieving them? What did you learn about yourself or your processes that you can take into the New Year?
- Learn from what went wrong. Perhaps there are some goals from last year that you did not achieve. Why? What could have been helpful for you in achieving these? What can you do differently in the New Year?
- Offer thanks to those who helped you. How many people helped you achieve your goals last year? Have you taken the time to express your gratitude to those who supported you – and without them – you couldn’t have succeeded.
Here’s to a great new year! The next 3 Blog entries will contain some strategies that will help you create goals and plans that will increase your chances of success.
Years ago, I picked up a small book entitled, “Simplify your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things that Really Matter by Elaine St. James (Hyperion, 1994). This book contains practical ways to simplify our lives in our household, Life style, finances, job, health, personal life with a concluding chapter on “hard core simplicity.” I believe the philosophy of simplify can help us live out with the “one thing at a time” attitude because as we get make our lives less complicated and cluttered, we can be freed up for innovation, creativity, and enthusiasm. If we’ve stopped and analyzed the “why” of the task, and stepped back and seen the task in light of how this task fits in with our organizations or team’s goals, we can simplify. Simplify means that we can make our lives less cluttered and complicated by eliminating things that we just do out of habit, boredom (they call this busy work) or because “that is just the way we’ve always done this.” Author Elaine St. James in her chapter on “Work Less and Enjoy It More” cut back on her workday by 10 percent by scheduling her day to end an hour earlier. What she realized is so applicable to us. In her words, “I found that I had fallen into the trap of believing that I had to do everything today, or at the very least, by tomorrow, so I was constantly working under unnecessary pressure, which is no fun.” She learned how to prioritize calls, set up more realistic time-frames for project completion dates, and build time (for interruptions) in her schedule.
I hope that these 3 S’s have made you reflect upon your current work habits and I encourage you to STEP, STEP BACK, and SIMPLIFY your work and home life so as Elaine St. James says, “not to deny yourself the things you want, but to free yourself from the things you don’t want. “
The 2nd “S” in the 3 S’s of a “One thing at a time” mentality is Step Back. Step back means that we step back from the task that we are working on and see the task in light of larger team goals or business goals. We can discover that this task is best served by another staff member – or we may find that this task, though we enjoy it – will not significantly increase revenue or lead to new business. Step back also refers to stepping back from the “this is the way we’ve always done it” mentality and see if there is another way that we can get the same result by a more streamlined method. Is there a way that this function can be automated? With technology, the way we used to do things is drastically improved. Are we making effective use of our human resources? Is every person in our team adding value by the tasks they are doing? Perhaps this task is a perfect growth opportunity for a team member. I may need to invest some time on the front end, but what a gift for me and the team if this person could get this function accomplished AND expand their skill set at the same time? I say this is a win-win!
Step back from your task – look at the activity in light of your team’s larger mission or goals and think about other ways this task can be accomplished. Perhaps other people? Perhaps using technology? Or perhaps this task doesn’t need to be done!
My next Blog posting will focus on the 3rd S – Simplify!
How many times I forget this! When I feel bombarded with a myriad of things to do, courses of action I could take, or just a time crunch – I need to remind myself to: stop, step back, and simplify my life by focusing on one thing. Studies show that multi tasking is not effective and productive. Whether in the workplace or in our personal lives, these “3 S’s” can help you radically reduce your stress and increase your focus.
STOP- I was coaching a woman on her resume and she mentioned what she asks her daughter on a consistent basis: “Why are you doing this?” This question has stuck with me and I ask this same question to myself. When I do take the time to reflect on my answer, I usually find out that deep down below the surface, the answers to the question “Why are you doing that?’ revolve around the following: it feels good to check it off my list, I don’t actually feel like accomplishing on my goals, it takes too long, I can’t get started…”
Stop encourages us to ask the “why” question. We may find that the answer makes sense and we continue with that task. But more often than not, we may find ourselves switching directions and working on a higher priority item that will move our work lives, careers, home lives or relationship going forward.
Stay tuned for my next Blog Posting will focus on the 2nd S – “Step Back”