The problem… Ever feel stuck or stagnant?Do you seem to be moving forward or are you just barely treading water?
You’re super busy but are you really seeing results from what you’re doing in your efforts?It seems exhausting and frustrating but you think you know what to work on right?Many times the problem is that a lot of the things that create success in the long run don’t look like they’re actually having any impact at all in the short run.
Let’s take working out for example if you go to the gym today you’re not going to have a six pack tomorrow and also you know if you don’t go to the gym today you’re not going to keel over and die from obesity tomorrow.So what ends up happening is we get scattered and inconsistent and end up with no real plan.It’s easy to get distracted especially at the end of our days and weeks where we start looking around and don’t really have a great answer for what we’ve really accomplished or not accomplished.Is that how you want to live just going through the motions keeping yourself busy?
Instead I’d like to propose a simple but very purposeful solution a way to plan out your most important work and track your results so that your effort is never wasted…
I’ve studied productivity and efficiency for several years now and I’ve tried just about every hack there is …everything from focus enhancing music and cold showers to Smart drugs.Even though learning some of the ideas through experiments were fun and interesting… and some maybe even mildly successful… the most enlightening thing I found is that there are just a handful of keystone habits that tend to make the biggest impact on my personal productivity.I’ve learned to use these habits in a journal form and I’m confident that if you try them too …you’ll be feeling better and more productive about your work in a few short days.
- Priority number one is to identify the top three tasks that need to get done each day and measure your progress based on those
- Next set short-term mini goals and break those down into small action steps
- Remind yourself to practice gratitude several times a day
- Establish a set of micro-habits
- Then write down and track your key performance indicators -KPI
It sounds like a ton of things to think about and do… but don’t worry, we’ll break down each of those components in the next section.And really it’s not a giant time commitment or any kind of massive lifestyle change. In fact, using this journal should take less than 5 minutes a day it’s just creating the mindset to go ahead and do it.( Super hard for me in the beginning)Believe me it’ll be 5 minutes well spent.To me …progress means forward motion …or actively taking the steps to improve each day. It’s one of the thing that we can control.Progress is universal, everyone can make progress toward their goals in some meaningful way… even if it’s small steps.It turns out we’re actually wired to seek progress, psychologists have found it to be a key factor in our overall happiness.Even some of the biggest motivational speakers call it the one word secret to happiness… and really I tell people the same thing if you want to know the secret to happiness… I can give it to you in one word – Progress !If you follow some of these tips and hacks… I guarantee you’ll feel more satisfied and productive with your work after 3 or 4 weeks…
I structure my journal to keep track of 4-week blocks.
This is intentional… you don’t have to wait for any arbitrary flip of the calendar to start using it… just pick a day in sequentially start adding to it. ( No skipped days once you get started)You can think of these time blocks as sprints or dedicated periods of time to make progress on one specific goal.Since 3 of the 4week blocks represent about a third of a Year’s worth of tracking… But you do not have to use them consecutively.
4 week block levelEach block that lasts 4 weeks has a beginning that starts with a primary goal for the next 28 days to focus on.Smart goal setting 101You probably heard of or maybe you’re familiar with the idea of setting smart goals but let’s review how it works…Specific no vague goals like grow my business you have to have a tangible goal like land 5 new clients or finish my website or make an extra $2,000 this month…Measurable how will you know if you’ve achieved your goal? Buy a solid concrete result instead of vague things like eat healthier or lose weight you got to say exactly how you’re going to do it eat five servings of vegetables a day or lose 10 lb.AchievableMake your goals ambitious and large …dream big but at the same time …know it’s attainableRelevant your goal should reflect something important to you and your business. Otherwise what’s the point right?Time bound if you follow the idea in the four week blocks you’ll be able to look back at the end of 28 days and see how far you’ve come.Having a destination in mind is crucial… The question is…Where do you want to go?
What do you want to get done?
After you set up your primary goal for your time blocks …you’ll want to break down the goal into its smallest action steps. So… you need to have a few key supporting tasks. For example, if my goal was to launch a new book I might have a key supporting list of steps like these
- Complete an outline for mind map
- Set up a rough draft
- Find and hire an editor
- Format the final version for eBook and paperback
- Create a cover design
- Recruit a launch team
Now of course these things will vary depending on your goal but it’s important to write down the action steps you’ll need to take in order to help you get there.Plus the smaller action steps will help you dictate your daily priorities… that way it’ll help you stay focused and make meaningful progress.
Tracking micro habitsWhen I’ve tried to develop new habits or experiment with new ideas, the one thing I found helpful is to set up what I call a micro-habit and then challenge myself to do it for 30 days…For example a few years ago when I first started this idea of drinking more water… I put water bottles everywhere so I would drink 16 Oz of water as soon as I got up in the morning and it took about 4 weeks to get in the habit of doing it.See micro-habits are not meant to be that extreme or lifestyle changing, but I think you’re going to find that they can be gateways or small triggers to larger habits.These are the kind of habits that take only 5 minutes or less and the idea is to make them too small to fail things like…
- Floss every evening
- Do 10 push-ups
- Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning
- Express gratitude and thanks several times daily
- Make a cold call
- Write down a new product idea
- Reconnect with an old friend or client
your your micro habits definitely don’t need to be 100% business related. In fact I usually have a mixture of both health business and relationship habits and I’m working on all the time.So each 28-day block will ask you for about three or four microhabits to try and you can keep the same ones for each block or change it up and try new ones.
The Week Level Review At the end of each 7 days you’ll fill in your journal with what you’re most proud of and what went well. Here you’ll also get an opportunity to describe any obstacles or resistance you faced and note where you can improve for the following week.
Each day review and prepare 10 minutes…Each day you should write down what you got done it’s very straightforward simply fill in the section of your journal for that day with the work that you did.The idea here is to celebrate and recognize the small tasks that you got done which are bringing you closer and closer to your goal. Plus at first I didn’t believe it. But your daily accomplishments…broken down is what the tracking allowed me to see more clearly. It gave me a feel for where my working hours are being spent and and how they’re going… as well as help you build satisfaction in your consistent effort in progress. Follow this simple outline and I promise in 30 days or less you’ll feel more productive and happier.
- Gratitude journaling this is journaling that includes an opportunity to track what you’re grateful for each day.
- Tomorrow’s priorities instead of waking up and wondering what to work on, you’ll avoid wasting time and energy by naming your top three priorities for tomorrow and each night.
- Micro habit tracking each daily journal entry page you should also list the series of checks boxes for your micro habits to be checked and tracked that way you’ll know whether or not you got them done that day and how consistent you are.
Key Performance Indicators -It’s a good idea to take a moment to think about your key performance indicators in your life or business these are the metrics that have the biggest impact on your overall operation in my business for example the primary kpis I track are the amount of applications filled out the amount of appointments booked in the amount of sales closed. Now while I agree that profit is very important of course business can’t survive without it and it’s something I track almost daily, I found it to be a lagging indicator compared to these other metrics. The important thing to understand is that if I can get the other numbers to increase the profit will then follow. Just remember that your kpis are the things you can pull on to create real change.
What makes a good KPI ? There’s two characteristics that the best KPI’s have in common . The first one is that they are numbers that you have some influence over. Sometimes it might not seem to be easy but with effort you can change them. Next they make a meaningful impact on your bottom line or quality of life let’s look at an example…If you’re an Uber driver, the price of gas directly impacts your profitability, but it’s not something that you have any control over…. So it doesn’t really make a great kpi. Instead it might be better to track the number of hours that are driven, the number of surge rides, or you’re effective hourly rate. If you’re a freelancer, the two things you’re paying most attention to are the flow of quality leads coming across your desk, and your ability to deliver results to clients. One way to use kpis here would be to track Discovery calls, proposals that got sent, or the average job value. These are things you have direct control over and will make meaningful impact to your business..
When working with kpis always ask this question…
What’s the one thing I can do right now …so that by doing it …everything else will be easier or unnecessary? Each business will be different in what is important to them in terms of choosing kpi… some examples
- New client leads
- Words written
- Designs submitted
- Cost for lead
- Profit margin
- Hours build the clients
Some people even count the thank you cards they received as one of their most important kpis. The reasoning is if the work is that strong enough to receive an unsolicited thank you note in the mail, you must be obviously making a positive impact. It’s always best to do something where you have control over making it changeable and impactful. Next time.. we break down habits… into micro mini steps…these are small…and easy to complete .For tips and ideas on productivity and forming good habits…I recommend two different books below…
Atomic habits… By James Clear
How to set goals with Kaizen and Ikigai… By Anthony Raymond
In the meantime take my free entrepreneur type quiz and let’s find out what marketing software would be right for you and your business? Go to FREE 5 Minute Entrepreneur Type Quiz Http://etquiz.net