Allowing ourselves to be led astray by shiny objects leads to scattered nothingness.
Over the past decade or so, Adult Deficit Disorder (ADD) has become a new phenomenon. I personally believe this is the result of the world we live in today with all its distractions and the seduction of shiny objects.
I’m a victim like the rest of us. So let me paint a picture of two typical scenarios that I’ve personally encountered:
#1: The weekend is here!
Finally, I can spend time baking, knitting for hours on end, blogging…and engage in quality family time and exercise. By the time Sunday evening rolls around, I realize not all my plans were realistic.
#2: Typical morning before my 8-5 job
The alarm goes off at 4:30am. My first plan is to sit in meditation for about twenty minutes, then I take a look at my to do list, and I’ve got three big items on my list: write blog post, begin editing a podcast and interact online with community. I’ve got two hours to make all of this happen! However, I’m lucky if one big thing gets checked off the list.
Problem— overly optimistic about the time I actually have. As a result, a sense of personal failure is the result.
Solution— discovering this problem has become a useful tool, because I’ve been forced to take a hard look at my time. I plot out the weekends loosely with “anchor activities” (see below). I start the precious two hours before my work day with meditation and one task, which takes a bunch of discipline on my part because by nature I’m an over-planner.
I enjoy the act of planing. I love both digital and paper planners and I’m addicted to finding the right system. It all looks so perfect when I plot out my day. This is a “failure to launch” tendency that I’ve discovered in myself, so I try to be mindful when this behavior creeps in.
I realize the act of over-planning is the result of not knowing what those key activities should actually be. This all or nothing “throwing it on the wall and seeing if it sticks” approach is not very effective.
With the weekend coming fast, you may like the idea of planning those anchor activities mentioned above, as Laura Vanderkam suggests in What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. The way to do this is to map out about three key activities that you’d like to do from Friday night to Sunday evening. The goal is not to go to extremes by mapping out every hour, or be too loose and not plan at all. I highly recommend checking our the book here. It’s a quick and easy read. Also, click here to check out the latest Morning Cool Down episode with Laura!
The predicament is wanting way too much.
The new idea, the best new thing. Just as we create some traction in one direction, we see something new, jump for it, but then make what we’ve been striving for come to a halt. John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire says it best with his acronym:
FOCUS= Follow One Course Until Success.
Do you struggle with following the newest, latest and greatest thing? Do you experience problems seeing your goals come to reality? Share your story, and how you pushed through and accomplished your goal. Let’s begin the conversation!
I know, you have a billion things on your To Do list, but you don’t know where to start. You’ve heard the “first things first” mantra, and Brian Tracy reminds us to Eat That Frog! but what the heck is first when everything is a priority?
When it comes to fitting multiple activities into your morning routine, you can accomplish many things in the course of your day using the 15-minute mentality. Imagine you could only get three major things done, what will those be?
If there are multiple things that you really want to do, then add them to a calendar. Maybe it seems funny to add personal activities to your schedule, but I see no reason NOT to since we have hectic day jobs. When we get home, we’re lucky if there’s three hours of solid time at night, and then three hours of solid time in the morning before work. If you identify this time, you may uncover 30 hours of time, Monday through Friday that you could CHOOSE to use any way that you want to.That’s a part-time job! Just imagine what you could get done.
No Excuses. After you schedule in a task. When that time is up, move on. If you find yourself still wanting to continue a particular activity, or find that 15 minutes for the task just doesn’t make sense, this is a great time to ask yourself– maybe I should simplify?
Calculate Your Available Time
Take a look at all of the things that you’d like to accomplish. Ask yourself the question– What kind of impact if any will this activity have on my day? Can I do this tomorrow instead? Is this an “A” task or “B” task. If it’s a B, there’s always tomorrow!
Try this little exercise:
- Write down how many waking hours you have available each day which are free and clear of the time you spend at your day or “street job.”
- List all the things you would like to accomplish in this time. Don’t hold yourself back, write down what you dream about too!
- Now go back and organize the list and designate as follows:
- A Items: Absolutely Important
- B Items: Important, but not crucial
- C Items: Can wait — place on the “wish list”
- D Items: Dump
Do you you plan your day in short time increments? What works for you? If there’s something you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you!
I was recently given a big project. I really want to make things happen and I have so many ideas, but the hard part is figuring out which task is the biggest priority. If you can identify first things first, then you’re that much closer to success. (A little deep breathing and yoga helps too!)
It’s great to take those notes, but there comes a time when you need to put them into some sort of cohesive order that allows you to start taking action, and “ship it” as author and marketing expert Seth Godin suggests. Make it a plan to take action on something every day. If you keep the pipeline full, you’ll always see results.
From Analysis Comes Paralysis
Yes, I know there’s so much to do; you’re excited and have so many ideas and you take a multitude of notes, but too much organizing can have the opposite effect–you don’t take action. Here’s my example–this blog. I’ve been caught up with planning pages, fancy graphics and sidebars and wanting everything to be perfect, but here’s the plain truth– “from too much analysis comes paralysis.” Some blog authors have been known to challenge the perfection principle by adding in a typo or two into a blog post on purpose. Now that’s pretty daring, but seriously– someday we’re all going to pass from this world and no one will give a heap about a silly typo. This practice certainly can put things into perspective. I just might give it a try. (someday)
Create the Roadmap
- Write down the most important things that you need to accomplish today.
- Number tasks in order of importance— use something that business guru Brian Tracy calls the “ABC Method” in his book Eat that Frog.
- Identify the biggest tasks— The “A” items are the biggest “frogs” and those must be “eaten” first. If you get those big tasks out of the way first, the rest of your day will be much easier. I try very hard to ask myself the question– what is the most important thing that if I started now would have the biggest impact on my day? That’s the task to begin with.
- Set the stage for the tomorrow–At the end of the day, move the remaining times to the next day and spend 10-15 minutes determining what your biggest tasks are, and repeat these steps.
Try to avoid the “busy work” syndrome. Indulging in frivolous email or low-level tasks can make us think we are accomplishing things, when in fact this is not the case. Start with the big tasks at the time of day when you have the most focus, and save the low-level tasks for the time of day when you’re not as focused.
If you can manage to figure out your priority items, you’ll be so much more focused and centered throughout the day. The feeling of spinning your wheels only to find you’ve accomplished nothing of importance is frustrating and creates even more stress. If you plan ahead, you’ll never have any emergencies and missed deadlines! Also, you’ll find that you’ll be able to accomplish so much more in one given day just for taking those 10 to 15 minutes at the end of each work day to plan for the next.
Plan for Tomorrow Now
- Create an “idea bucket” or journal to dump all of your ideas. This helps free your mind because this is a place that you can relieve yourself of all those ideas that pop into your head. You can revisit them later when you plan your next day or week.
- Write out two major goals that you wish to complete in the coming week.
- Plan your week- add priority items, then sprinkle in items from your “idea bucket.”
- Identify low-level, administrative tasks– this is where an assistant is crucial. Do not spend any time on low-priority items!