We’ve discussed the importance of staying in the moment and focusing on what needs to be done right now rather than consternating checking your progress or comparing yourself to others. It’s true, it’s important. but…
As with so many other apparently “non-productive” things like play-time, we make them a vital part of our progress when we’re intentional about them. Down time or play time can be a hurdle for us if we’re not in control of when it happens. But when we do control it, it’s incredibly beneficial, actually helping us get more done during our non-downtime.
Look Up From The Road in Front of You
You may know some people who drive with their eyes only looking about 10 to 20 feed in front of them. That’s not the safest way to drive, but sometimes in life, that’s the best way to get a lot of work done. Just focus on what’s NEXT
To continue the metaphor, this is fine when you know had a break, gotten some rest and your tank is full. You have no reason to stop for several miles.
But, you can’t do this indefinitely.
When you do that, you miss the exit sign, or the rest area, or even the “last service station for the next 50 miles” sign.
That’s why you have to be intentional about pulling over and checking the tire pressure, coolant level, stretch your legs and even take a little potty break.
Ok… enough of the metaphor.
As this episode is released, it’s the last day of June 2015. We’re heading into July and we’re even at a the mid point in the year, so you may want to make extra use of this place to look at how your annual goals are doing.
Review Your Progress
One of the best ways to get more done is to have less to do. That’s a little odd, but just like a cluttered desk, a cluttered to-do list can be overwhelming and distracting, keeping you from focusing on the items that are most important in your day, or in this case, your month.
Is there something on your to do list that’s been there most of if not all of the past month?
Maybe that’s something that really isn’t as important
Estimate what you can do this next month by using last month as your standard – and eventually several “last months” – evaluate what you were honestly able to get done.
Metaphor time… hahaha… I can’t help it. When my family relocated from Washington State to South Florida, we had a great time driving about 3,000 miles across the country. It’s one of my favorite memories as a family. In fact, it’s a driving factor in my desire to someday buy an motor coach and head out across the country again.
When I mapped out our trip, the first day I planned for us to go about 900 miles. In fact, I booked a hotel room for us before we even left. Well, at about 1 am, with blurry eyes I could barely keep open, we finally pulled into the hotel parking lot. Wow… That was a LONG day.
The next day, I planned on going about 750 miles. Still, this was a LONG day. By the 5th and final day, I was planning on doing about 500 (nearly half of my first day) miles.
I had to adjust based on my previous performance. Otherwise, I was setting unrealistic expectations feeling overwhelmed by what lies ahead of me.
So look back at what you did or didn’t get done in the past month. Look at the effort it took and be honest with ourself about how much more or less you should be doing.
Keeping in mind what you didn’t get done from last month, evaluate what you need to do this next month.
Look for items that can be delayed or even eliminated. This isn’t about procrastination, it’s about planning your schedule so you don’t overestimate what you can do. It’s about making sure fully focused on a few very high priority items rather than being mentally scattered.
Are there any new projects starting up this month which require you to be finishing up previous items?
Will those new items be more important in the grand scheme of things?
What can be delegated to someone assisting you so it’s still getting done but you’re free to do what needs your specific attention?
Looking at everything that’s on your schedule or to do list for next month, break them down into weekly tasks.
Your month may look manageable until you realize 90% of your tasks have a deadline at the end of the second week. So manage week by week and look for items which can be shifted without compromising your overall goals.
Keep in mind, even though your to do list looks manageable, you may have family or friends visiting from out of town. Or possibly some travel requirements for yourself which will take over part of a few days at least.
In June I had Father’s Day, my birthday and wedding anniversary all within a one week period. I missed this collision and that’s why I’m publishing Tuesday’s episode on Tuesday evening instead of Tuesday morning. It’s catch up time now. That’s bad planning.
My workload didn’t change, but capacity did. Don’t overlook it. What big events are happening next month?
Make sure you’re investing the time in this process. I realize it can SEEM like wasted time, but it’s not… it’s just like the metaphor about sharpening your saw or ax before heading out to cut down a tree. What seems like a waste of time really turns into a huge investment. The work is done more rapidly and the time invested pays a huge dividend.
Also make sure you’re doing your weekly and even daily reviews. Each one should take less time then the other. Your annual planning may take a full day or even a weekend, monthly planning may be a few hours, weekly planning could be just an hour and your daily could just be 10 minutes.
If you put off any of the items in that sequence, you’re going to compound the problem further down the line.
Take the time and do that monthly review. I hope you had a great June and you’re looking forward to an amazing July. At the end of July, I’ll be heading to Fort Worth for Podcast Movement and even doing a quick 10 minute presentation on Friday. If you’re going, please reach out and let me know. There are few things I want to do there more than meeting you, a listener to this show. Let’s grab lunch, coffee or even a drink. I would love to say hello.