Over the past few weeks I had a slew of amazing one-on-one calls with folks from our Focus Course community.
During these calls I noticed a few common themes…
If you remember from a few weeks ago, I shared about one of those themes being the commonalities in people’s ideal day.
Another theme I noticed was people’s frustration with having more ideas than time.
You all have so many interesting and important projects you are working on that sometimes you don’t know where to start.
You feel overwhelmed by options.
There is too much to do.
And so one very common question is this:
“How do I get it all done?”
. . . . .
For me, there are certainly times when I feel stretched thin to get it all done.
I do my best work when I am head down and focused on just one project.
But sometimes, that sort of single-minded focus is not an option. Or is it?
To have multiple projects and areas of interest, you have to be okay with letting one or more of them be neglected for a time while you work on the others.
Instead of working on multiple things simultaneously, perhaps it would be better to work on just one thing at a time.
So . . . .
If you have more ideas than time…
If you feel that you’re struggling to get it all done…
If you have multiple projects and areas of responsibility, and you feel pulled in many different directions…
If you have just a whole bunch of stuff all going on at the same time….
How do you manage it without feeling like you’re taking crazy pills?
Here are some suggestions for how to juggle things better:
- Reduce the scope: Consider scaling back what “1.0” looks like, so it’s something that is attainable. And consider lowering your bar of perfectionism — my friend Sean McCabe says we ought to aim for 90% complete (instead of 99%).
Reduce your project load: Do you have to be doing all the projects right now? Can one or more of them be put on pause? Instead of doing three projects all simultaneously, can you do one at a time? Even on a week-to-week basis?
Get help: Consider delegating and/or hiring others to help you.
Learn to say no to your own ideas: In The Focus Course, there is a day dedicated to ideation and strengthening our creative imagination. One of the benefits to this exercise is that you learn you have more ideas than time, and you don’t have to be a slave to your good ideas. We all will have ideas that we want to do, but the existence of them doesn’t mean we are now obligated to flesh them out.
Spend less time on counterfeit rest: Things like television, video games, social media, mindless internet surfing — these things can be time sinks. Moreover, they don’t leave us feeling refreshed, motivated, or recharged. You most definitely need breaks and time to rest, but there are some great ways to do it other than zoning out.
Plan ahead: Your productive tomorrow starts today. What is one thing you can do now that will improve life for your future self? Go to bed on time, set out your clothes for tomorrow, write down the first thing you’re going to do when you sit down to work in the morning, etc. This will help you overcome distractions and give you a head start on being focused.
Identify your roles and goals: You need boundaries and clarity in your life. Step back and identify your roles and the desired outcomes you have. Are there one or two roles in your life which consume the vast majority of your time and attention? Do you have the margin you need to stay focused on what is truly important? Do you even know — for sure — what is truly important?
Too many spinning plates will hinder your long-term focus and motivation
Is it best to make a little bit of progress on a lot of projects, or is it better to make a lot of progress on just a few projects?
In short, the latter.
It is better to focus on making significant progress on only a few projects at a time.
When you’re focusing on one project (or area of your life)…
- Everything becomes inspiration for that area.
- You have a clearer understanding of what needs to be done next and you have the margin to take action.
- It’s easier to measure progress (and progress helps build and keep your momentum).
- The quality of work you’re doing is better due to your undivided focus.
- It is easier to get in the flow — a naturally motivating state to be in, that also accelerates progress.
When you are afraid to focus on one thing at a time, it oftentimes comes from having too granular of a perspective. It means you lack clarity of the bigger picture.
This is why annual, monthly, and weekly planning can be so helpful. They give us a big-picture perspective, which also gives us the permission we need to focus on one thing at a time.
This is easier said than done, of course, because when we are focusing on just one project it feels as if we are neglecting the others.
But the truth is that you’re not neglecting the others if you have a plan to get to them at a later date.
Thou Shalt Not Underestimate Clarity
Clarity can go a long way in helping you focus.
In fact, one of the very definitions of focus is Maximum Clarity.
Clarity is SO IMPORTANT that it is the VERY FIRST component of living a focused life: Knowing your “WHY”.
Your vision and your values are more important** than your goals; more important than your schedule; more important than your habits and routines.
Because, as you can see from the image above, your vision and your values are what inform your goals, your actions, your schedule, and your habits.
Who cares two figs about some super-duper kick-butt morning routine if it doesn’t serve the big picture for you?
If you’re struggling to get it all done, it really boils down to this:
Are you confident that you’re spending your time on the right things?
If not, then a lack of clarity may be costing you far more than you realize.
If you’re not clear and you would like to know how to get from where you are to where you want to be, then The Focus Course can help.