This is without a doubt one of the busiest times of the year, especially if you are a business owner. You’ve just spent December wrapping up a year, squeezed in two major holidays, and now that it’s January, you must be ready to race full speed ahead. The gate has opened, and if you don’t run fast, you will be left in the dust.
But in the midst of the busy-ness, it is essential that you stop frequently, as I do, and evaluate whether or not you are hitting the most IMPORTANT things. I actually have, each day, three must-do’s-or-I-don’t-go-to-sleep items on a list in front of me at all times. If you don’t focus on the main things, everything under the sun will crowd away the important.
Here are some ways to keep the IMPORTANT things moving forward.
Indicate the Important. You must define what truly is important and what is not. If you don’t start out with that focus, “everything” will be important and “nothing” will be accomplished. The bottom line is this: if YOU don’t define the priorities in your life and business, someone else will.
Motivate Yourself. Even if you absolutely love what you’re doing, you will still have times when you don’t want to do what you know you must do. Learn to motivate yourself – find what recharges your battery. Maybe working in one place is demotivating – take your laptop and go to a different area. Read something inspiring. Find a new way to do your work that keeps it interesting. Work in intervals. Do something small to get yourself started…or do something big to give yourself a victory. But DO something that moves you toward your “important” goals each day.
Projects. When it comes to what we have to do, there are basically two categories: Routines and Projects. Projects are things that have a beginning and an end. With projects, you set deadlines and then you break each part down into segments (milestones) that have mini-deadlines. Meet those mini-deadlines, and your project will stay on track. Allocate project time regularly each week, and focus solely on keeping those milestones in check.
Organize. Be organized in your work. Some personalities find this easier than others. For those who find it challenging, find ways to organize that fit you. If you’re I-wired, use fun and colorful tools. Be scheduled but not too rigid – give yourself some space for fun. You can be more organized than you think. There may be some things like bookkeeping that just do not work for you – in cases like that, reach out to a C-wired person and your problem is solved.
Routines. There are routines that must be done daily, weekly, monthly and annually. These are usually not urgent, but if you let them slide, they will indeed become very urgent. If you’ve ever run out of gas or found yourself without clean clothes on the morning of a very important meeting, you know what I mean. Routines are very important. Done regularly, they will keep your life and work humming along in the background.
Tasks. These are all the little minions that must be addressed in order to finish routines or complete a project. In today’s fast-paced society, there is absolutely no end to the number of tasks that beg for our attention. Our only recourse is to set boundaries based on our “most important” list. This is why having that list of three items is so important. We should ask ourselves several times a day, “Is what I’m doing moving me toward one of those three important goals for the day?”
Ask. One of THE biggest ways to get the important done is to learn to ask for two things: Advice and Help. It’s as simple as that. If you’re stuck, it’s because you need to ask for one of those options.
No. Learn to say the word, “No,” and use it liberally. You cannot – and should not – do everything, and you are not obligated to explain why. Learn to say, “No” tactfully, but learn to say it. Saying, “No” not only keeps you focused on your important items list, it also gives others the opportunity to help and feel needed.
Team. Build a team of Teachers, Encouragers, Allies, and Mentees. Build it now before you need it because, sooner or later, you WILL need it.
I’m pretty sure this is a busy week for you, no matter who you are and what you do. Make sure in all the busy-ness you hit the IMPORTANT things – I guarantee you’ll feel like a million bucks when you have a week like that.