“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey
Not too long ago I had an important reality check from my coach about my schedule (I’m a huge believer that all coaches should walk their talk and have their own coach!).
I had been feeling burnt out, and my todo list had started looking more like a shopping list.
My coach had me track where my work hours were going. I immediately saw that not only was I overworking, but I was putting a ton of time into non-priority areas in my business. It was time to hit the pause button and regain clarity on my business priorities.
The result was a massive overhaul to my business flow, schedule, and even dumping a program that had become dead weight. More importantly, this resulted in more room to breathe and more focused productivity.
Most of us fall into one of two camps: The hard-driving taskmaster, who piles on more and more work never feeling satisfied, or the happy-go-lucky, go-with-the-flow procrastinator, who never understands where the day has gone. Sometimes we fluctuate between the two, overcompensating for one with the other!
It can be tempting to do work for work’s sake because it makes our ego feel good. It also packs the added bonus of allowing us to avoid the work we need to do but might be avoiding out of fear or uncertainty.
It’s also easy and common to get into a groove and lose focus on the other spokes on our business-wheel that need tending to.
Sometimes we get comfortable and stuck in a routine, while other times we simply haven’t reviewed our business in some time and are running an outdated model.
We feel “busy”, but we aren’t moving the needle of our business forward.
And don’t even get me started on the all the “shiny objects” and projects that suck focus.
If you’re feeling busy, but not seeing the results you want in your business, this blog’s for you.
For starters, you’re not alone and this is normal. I know this stuff, I’ve read about it, I teach it, and I still need help to see my blind spots.
How do we get more of what matters done in our days?
Priorities. Priorities. Priorities.
I know, revelatory, huh?
Getting super, duper, crystal clear on what matters most to you and your business is the key to more productivity.
In all seriousness, getting clear on your business priorities and keeping them front and center is the secret to GSD and more of it. It’s a not-so-secret trick of many of the uber-productive and successful.
Here’s an easy cheat sheet for how to get more of what matters done in your business:
Get clarity on your business priorities
What’s important to you in your business? Whittle your list of priorities down to your top five. Write them out and keep them in front and center.
If you’re having a tough time getting clear on your priorities, step outside of your day to day for a moment and fast forward 18 months to three years. What do you want your business to look like? Brain dump a list and narrow these answers down to create your top 5 business priorities.
So often we think we know what we want. We think we’re clear on our priorities, but the truth is we’re vague and have lukewarm priorities. This is also how we lose hours and hours to non-productive projects.
Are your current actions a reflection of your business priorities?
If not, time to get cracking. What do you need to eliminate to make room for your top five priorities to thrive?
What do you need to say no to, stop doing, cancel, or omit?
Steal a page from my morning ritual. Keep those long term goals front and center. Use these long term goals to influence your daily goals. Every morning write out three daily goals that are aligned with your business priorities and long-term business goals.
Less is more
It sounds backward, but the key to getting more done is scheduling less. Fewer daily goals create focus and more output.
Productivity Specialist Franklin Covey surveyed thousands of teams and found, if a team has 2-3 primary goals, they are likely to achieve 2-3 of them. If a team has 3-10 primary goals, they are likely to achieve 1 or 2 of them.
And, if a team has 11 or more goals, they are likely to achieve none of them. Read that again. NONE of them. (Read more here.)
What’s the payoff? Many of us are motivated by pleasure. Unfortunately, it’s this same lust for pleasure that keeps us from GSD in our business. What’s the payoff for getting these goals done? Conversely, if you’re motivated by avoiding pain, what discomfort will you avoid by focusing on and sticking to your goals?
Schedule it. You may think you’ll remember, but more often than not, if we don’t schedule it, we don’t do it. When, specifically, will you focus on and complete your daily goals?
While I think life is a marathon, I’m all for “work sprints”.
Set a timer, turn off your ringer, close the tabs on your computer, and shut off notifications (read how multitasking is slowing you down). Work in uninterrupted, highly-focused “sprints” on one specific task for 20-90 minutes, then take a mini-break to check in with the world.
The key to a successful “work sprint” is the specificity of the task and shutting off distractions. You’d be amazed at how much you can get done in “sprints” of uninterrupted, focused time.
Look back over your goals throughout the day. It only takes a few seconds, but it reminds you of your intention and keeps you from wandering off to work on a “shiny object” (one of my biggest distractions)!
Check in with yourself at the end of the day. How did you do? Celebrate the priorities you focused on and made progress towards. Celebrating our small wins is an act of gratitude that sets us up for increased happiness and future success.
Try this for a week, I think you’ll be amazed at your productive output when you take the time to get clear on what your top priorities are and commit your goals to paper.
Time is our most valuable resource and it’s also limited. Stop giving it away to non-priority items.