I’ve started a process that’s changing my entire attitude about life and work. Day by day, this powerful catalyst will allow me to transform myself and the way I approach everything I do.
10 days ago I consciously started two new daily habits. I’ve been consistent and motivated, and taken care of these two things every day, even when I didn’t feel like it.
I’ve committed myself to 30 days, then if things have gone well, another 30, so that they truly become habits. Once I’ve instilled them as habits, I know it will get MUCH easier.
What are these two magic things? These are two little hinges that will swing the door of my life and work. I’ll tell you about them in a little while, but first, it’s important to know the back story.
FOCUSING ON “THE ONE THING” AT A TIME
As an independent entrepreneur, I continually struggle with focus and always have more tasks on my To Do list than I can possibly accomplish. On my plate are things I know I should do, or want to do, or have promised to do.
Day by day, I chip away at whatever is in front of me, but all too often, I find that at 5 pm, I still haven’t done “the thing” that I told myself was important to do that day. I had answered everyone’s emails, taken care of lots of little things, but not focused or prioritized well.
I realized that I needed help with this core issue, and discovered two very inspiring and practical books that I highly recommend:
The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results – by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months – by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington
I created a 12 Week Plan that lays out what I’m setting out to accomplish in that time frame, broken up into weekly task lists and targets. To have success with this system, it’s important to start each day by reviewing the planning document, seeing where things stand, and deciding what to focus on and when.
I’ve never been very good at planning my days or my long term goals. When I have a specific project, such as launching the Masters of ArchiCAD Summit, there is urgency and I make sure the most important things get done. However when it’s more long term, my efforts are sporadic and vulnerable to getting sidetracked with the many small but seemingly urgent tasks that each day brings up. And I’m often jumping from task to task, or multi-tasking, rather than focusing on one thing and getting it done.
My usual solution when I realize that I haven’t taken care of things that need to get done that day is to go back to my desk in the evening and work until midnight or 2 am, whatever it takes. Of course, this is not healthy, and impacts my family and my enjoyment of life, as well as my health.
And since I am always a bit tired from the long day before, with a never-ending task list, my only exercise has been my 15 minute walk to Peet’s Coffee each morning (where I work for an hour or two on my laptop) and walking the dog with my wife a few times a week.
MY MAGIC BULLET
- When I get to Peet’s Coffee and settle down with my Latté and my laptop, instead of starting by going through my email, I’m reviewing my Weekly Plan and setting out my priorities for the day. Even though I may not get everything done, I’m making sure that first thing in the day I’m getting in touch with my “most important” goals and tasks, so I can make effective choices.
- After going through emails and doing some writing or other creative work at the café, I go home and do a workout (for the first time in years). I’m using the Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout app on my iPhone, which guides me through a series of exercises. They’re scientifically designed to alternate muscle groups with 30 second intervals of vigorous or isometric exercises, getting the maximum out of a short workout (you can do longer sessions, up to 20 minutes, with this app).
The daily planning process will lead me to making more effective choices of how to focus my time throughout the day, and ultimately, getting traction on the most important things in my work and life.
The daily workout sessions will give me more strength and fitness, as well as more energy to enjoy life and work even more effectively. This is an investment in my body and my life that will pay many types of dividends.
In the book The One Thing, the authors point out that trying to be extremely disciplined with everything in life is awfully hard, and that “will power” to follow through usually falters and gets used up while pushing through challenging tasks. They recommend choosing and developing productive habits, instilling each one by doing it consistently over a period of two months. Once it becomes a habit, it takes virtually no will power to do it, so you reap the rewards without expending as much effort.
I feel really excited as I create these two specific habits, since they will definitely help make everything else in my life flow more easily. I’ll share my progress with you from time to time, and look forward to sharing the journey with you if you choose to try something like this yourself.
I’d love to read your thoughts. Can you relate to my feeling of having too many tasks on an endless To Do list? Have you ever tried anything like this? Please click here to post a comment…