If you have ever had a pet hamster, or a pet gerbil, you will know the sound of the exercise wheel, spinning vigorously, crazily, throughout the night.
And if you haven’t had a pet rodent, you can still see them at pet stores to get a picture of how they seem to run and run and run…. And not actually get anywhere.
There is a lot of activity, a lot of crazy busy-ness, and very little that is accomplished.
In some cases, it is a good picture of the lives of many entrepreneurs: lots of activity and very little productivity.
It’s one thing to finish up your day, finish up your week, and look back and simply have been active and busy. It’s an entirely different thing to have been productive, having moved forward on your goals.
Productivity is all about being intentional with what you are working on, and making sure you are focused on the big picture. It’s the important tasks that move you forward, not the urgent ones.
The 80/20 principle
Remember the 80/20 (Pareto) principle? Where 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions? If you can figure out what those 20% actions are, and do MORE of them, you will create even greater results!
That means focusing on the real 20%, not the fires, the little tasks, the things that can very easily distract you from the bigger picture.
You must have clarity on those big-picture items; you must know what you are trying to achieve. Once you know that, then just reverse engineer everything, so you know what your objectives, milestones, and tasks are, on a monthly, weekly, daily, and even hourly basis.
Review this success process
Because everyone manages to get pulled away from daily habits that we know work, this is a great time to review this success process. Even if you started it back at the beginning of the year, it’s time to re-focus and re-commit to these principles. Today. Right now.
I have tried all different types of time management and productivity systems. you name it. I’ve read all the books. I’ve tried all the software, the systems, and the methodologies. This system below is what works best for me, and for many other successful people. It’s simple but it keeps you on track with what you need to do in order to be productive.
1 – Annual goals
Start with your big-picture goals for the year. Don’t underestimate what you can accomplish over an entire year, so set big goals!
2 – Quarterly milestones
What milestones do you need to reach in the next three months that will help you attain those big goals? Outline where you need to be at the end of each upcoming quarter, until you have a plan for the rest of the year.
3 – Monthly objectives
What do you need to accomplish this month in order to be on track to reach your quarterly milestones?
4 – Weekly objectives
What do you have to do this week to accomplish your monthly objectives?
5 – Daily tasks
What do you have to do consistently, every day, to reach your weekly objectives? Make sure at the top of every daily task list are the most important things. Remember, you want to put your “big rocks” on the list first, the things that are most critical. All the little pebbles and the sand go into your day after the most important items are done.
Don’t think you can just sit down and do this at the beginning of the year for a few weeks. You have to keep doing it.
Once a week – either over the weekend, or at the end of the day on Friday – evaluate where you are in relation to your weekly and monthly plan, then identify what you need to do in order to accomplish your goals the next week.
Then, every day, create a task list based on what is most important to achieving those goals.
If you find yourself struggling to fit everything in, check out guest blogger, Justin Devonshire’s post, about how to prioritize your time as an entrepreneur.
That’s it. That’s the entire system.
It’s simple, but sometimes it’s not easy to do.
If your motivation to stick to the plan begins to wane, just remember that crazy hamster wheel, spinning, spinning, spinning….