I’m pretty certain that anyone reading this article is very familiar with the concept of overwhelm.
It seems that every year that goes by we have more to do, with the big problem being we don’t always focus on doing the right things at the right time and this can lead to some major issues.
Most of us tend to focus on what, or who, needs our attention right here, right now. Sometimes it’s a matter of which client needs our attention, and that normally comes back to the squeaky wheel principle of which client makes the most noise.
So our attention is drawn in different directions but are these the right directions to ensure our business grows, that it becomes financially stable and successful and we get to enjoy what we do?
Over the years I’ve learnt a simple process that ensures I stay focused on what’s important in my business right here right now. It’s a simple way of setting business priorities and I’m going to share it.
1. Establish a priority for the month
At the beginning of every month I establish a very clear priority and theme for where I need to focus my attention for the month ahead.
For example, if I know that a major project is about to come to an end it’s pretty clear that I’m going to need some work to replace that income, my focus for the month ahead is going to be on business development.
2. Define exactly what needs to be achieved
Next I define exactly what I want to achieve on that priority theme for the month ahead. What are my goals, objectives, reasons for achieving them, etc? I really spell these out in detail to make sure they are super clear in my mind.
3. Schedule in quality time
Everyday I allocate quality time (not left over time at 10pm at night) to working on the priority. Generally, I make it the first few hours of the day. This can be really tough, because everything else pops up wanting your attention.
If you start to neglect your priority early in the month, it will fall by the wayside within a few days and nothing will happen. The priority theme needs to be given the attention it deserves and this takes discipline and focus.
Make focus a habit
In the early days of doing this I used to have post-it notes all over the place reminding me what to focus on. Today when I’m planning my day ahead or week, it’s the first thing I schedule in. It goes into my calendar on a daily basis. It’s everywhere. I don’t give myself the chance to forget about it or for other demands to push it out of the priority spotlight.
I have a number of monthly themes. They can include anything from recharging my batteries, developing new products, systemisation, marketing, client projects, personal development, learning a new skill and so on.
The process is the same, get clear on the priority for the month, name it and be specific about what it needs to be and treat it as a priority. I start every day with a focus on the theme for the month and investing as much time as I need to make it happen.
I do this religiously every month and I certainly feel a lot more in control of my business. It helps me to get and stay focused. I get the important things done, not just the things that cry out for my attention and, most importantly, I feel like I’m making progress not just spinning a pile of plates, day after day.
Sometimes, the simplest of ideas can have the most profound impact on our business (and life). This might be one of those for you, it certainly has been for me.
PS: For a more detailed process of to-do list management, check out by Jayne Tancred’s other great piece What to do when there’s too much to do: 7 to-do list strategies.