My dog got loose and I had to track him down. A number of my clients for one of my businesses all had issues that were ‘critically important and couldn’t wait’. My internet went down, etc, etc, etc.
So in looking back at my accomplishments against my plan for yesterday, I only got one thing done.
That one thing was a task along my strategic plan and therefore my day was a success!
In your entrepreneurial journey, there will be many days like this. Some days less so. There are always many, many things to get done and the feeling of being over whelmed can be, well, overwhelming. 🙂
This is why it is so important to move away from the traditional ‘To Do’ list and construct your days and strategic plan in such a way that you ensure that you will always be getting at least one important thing done each day.
I used to be a list maker. I would have a list of 20 things for the day which I would prioritize. Checking things off this list gave me an endorphin rush. As putting a lot of truly important strategic tasks on the list meant that at the end of the day, I would not be able to check much off, I would add more minor tasks that could be checked off.
Does this sound familiar?
I realized that this was not really helping me truly progress in my businesses. It was simply keeping me busy.
I recommend the following to break this habit and develop a better strategy where you will keep momentum going on a daily basis, feel less stressed and move your business forward:
1) Establish these five types of dedicated ‘Time Islands’
A tactic I learned from Gary Keller’s book ‘The One Thing’ is to create specific time islands throughout the day that are dedicated to specific activities.
How these islands show up on any given day will be specific to you and your needs but I highly recommend experimenting to find a good pattern and then keeping them inviolate long enough to make them habitual.
You should also set an alarm that signals the end of a given time block and stop when this time is reached (very important).
They should consist of one (or more) of each one of these types:
- Time with God block
This should be done first thing everyday, as soon as you awake. As stated in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The things ‘added to you’ are the strength, innovation and alignment with His will that makes it possible to face the challenges of the day, renew our faith in our plans and move forward boldly. This time should be for you to have intimacy with God. Sometimes this will be through prayer, sometimes simply meditating on His Word and listening. Practicing and making this a habit will fortify you for the day.
- Quiet/Think time block
Many of us do not take time to simply think hard and focused on what we should be doing. We have a vague notions but we are easily swept up into the daily grind and really don’t take the time.
This block is to specifically think and plan what parts of your overall business strategy need to be addressed next. This is deep think time. You do not try and do the tasks – simply determine what they should be (or break a larger task into an actionable item). Keep notes. Use this time to create your Daily strategy plan or refine your larger strategy.
This is a period of time (eventually 30-60 mins) each day that you will not be interrupted by work, clients, family, kids. Turn off your phone. Do not be in front of a computer.
(For me, what works best is first thing in the morning after my walk but before normal ‘business’ hours (between 6am and 8am))
- A Chore Block
This is a block of time where you do the normal chores that we all have. Administrative business stuff, responding to emails, posting content, etc. When the time is up. Stop. As you will have new chore blocks on other days, it ok not to get them all done (there will always be more chores to do than can be done) 🙂
- A Strategic Plan Task block
This is a block of time that you work specifically on the task(s) from your Daily Strategic Plan. This is focused time reserved for doing your important things, nothing else.
- A Learning/Skill Improvement block
This is a block of time that you use to improve yourself. This is reading time, learning/studying a specific skill as aspect of your business.
If you set this up right, this will mean that your have these blocks spread out throughout the day. To start, each block needs to be only 15 minutes. Meaning that initially, you are only talking about an hour and 15 minutes for them in a day – perfectly ‘doable’.
Over time, you can increase these block by 15 minutes (as you gain experience) to eventually 1 hour for each MAX (The limits are important as spending too much time allows us to get unfocused on the intent of the time block). The other ‘non-assigned time’ can be used for reading, other work, play or simply to deal with other things that arise throughout the day.
2) Have a Daily Strategy Plan rather than a ‘To Do’ List
You don’t need a list of 20 things. You need a focused list of just of few important things that you commit to do today.
After the time is up, stop. Again, the goal is to ensure progress everyday and making these things seem to big in our mind will allow us to procrastinate.
3) Don’t Keep your Strategy Plan to Yourself
I know myself well enough that if left to only being accountable solely to myself, I’ll let myself ‘skate’ on commitments sometimes. The best way to reduce this is to share your daily plan with a colleague, business partner, spouse, trusted friend and then report back to them on how you did. I have found that even if they don’t respond or provide much feedback, this simple act of sharing with someone else, keeps me more accountable to the tasks and progress I have written down.
If you follow this simple practice, you will find that your business progression will actually accelerate…even when you just get one thing done. You will feel less stressed, be more productive and be spending time thinking about and doing the things that truly matter and actually feel that you have more time!
I hope you find this helpful and as always,
Stay On The Rise!