Multi-talented people (which I would bet money includes most of you reading this), because they can do anything sometimes feel that they should do everything.
You wanna find yourself spinning your wheels and not getting much useful done, this is the way to do it.
I’m doing an experiment this year. I’ve got four basic year-long goals. If an activity does not apply to one of those goals, it does not belong on my to-do list.
This is not to mean that I am not allowed to do things that don’t apply to my goals. What this means is that I’m not allowed to do things that do not apply to my goals first.
My goals for 2008 are to lose 2 lbs a month, triple my monthly income doing what I love (less impressive than it sounds. I’m still waaayyy in the early stages of my business), make sure my friends/family understand I love and appreciate them, and get the PolyWorks Fund fully up and running with a specific goal dollar amount as our first year’s giving. Hardly onerous, but certainly a solid, productive year.
This is easy to break down into monthly, weekly and daily goals. At the beginning of each month, I decide what I want accomplished by the end of it. At the beginning of each week, same. This helps me set appropriate daily goals, which is where the real work is done. Other than planning sessions, I do my best to keep myself focused on the day at hand. I probably won’t give December 31, 2008 another thought until sometime next December. I know where I want to be, and the steps to get there. The steps are the important part now.
Notice “declutter the house” is not on the list at all. Does this mean my house will fall to rack and ruin in 2008? No. If it were in danger of doing so, I’d’ve had a housekeeping goal for this year and dropped one of the other ones. What it means is that unless I’ve accomplished what I set out to do for the day, I’m not to be cleaning out closets. If I get a wild hare across my butt to do so after I’ve accomplished my daily goals, that’s all good. I’m just not allowing myself to spend a lot of time on things that have nothing to do with what I’ve decided to accomplish. (Obviously, there is cleaning and organizing that does directly relate to getting my work done. Gotta maintain the files, etc. These things do make my to-do list).
I try to keep my to-do lists relatively short, too. Before I put it in Outlook (yes, I use Outlook as my task-tracker, etc.) I ask myself is this really productive, or is it make-work? I’ve noticed the very, very busy seem to be just awfully proud of being busy rather than actually accomplishing stuff. Anyone who has worked for someone who likes busy for the sake of busy knows what I am talking about! It’s an easy trap to fall into when you’re self-employed and feel guilty that someone might think you’re being “lazy”.
I know all this planning sounds like wheel spinning. I find that it is not at all. Every hour I spend doing it seems to save me about two when it comes to getting stuff bloody well done.