I don’t care how disciplined you think you are; the Holidays are a time of huge distraction. Even in a normal year, it’s easy to let slip our to-do lists, budgets, client follow-ups and timesheets when gift lists, parties, family gatherings and travel plans are tugging at our subconscious. That’s okay. If ever we needed a reason to celebrate with friends and family it was 2020.
Just realize that it could be tougher than ever to get refocused when the calendar flips over to Monday January 4, 2021…. especially if you’re still working from home.
You may not like what you’re seeing when you finally confront your bathroom scale, your credit card statement or your overflowing inbox, but eventually you must pay the piper. You’re not going to reverse a month’s worth of letting your guard down in one day. Don’t let that put you in a post-Holiday funk.
Hint: New Year’s Resolutions rarely work. There is a better way.
Two of my unofficial mentors–Randy Shattuck and Josh Patrick–have some great suggestions for managing your re-entry back to the daily grind.
According to Patrick, founding partner of Stage 2 Planning Partners and host of The Sustainable Business podcast, highly driven business owners and professionals try to get too many things done at once. That’s because their boundless energy and determination makes them feel invincible.
“When I was in younger, I would always have 20, 30, sometimes 40 projects that I wanted to get done,” recalled Patrick. “I spent all my free strategic time starting at this list, wondering what to do first. I would create one, then start another, and then another with nothing ever getting finished.”
Ultimately Patrick discovered the concept of “working on a backlog” in which you never allow yourself to work on more than on one or two projects at a time. Everything else should go into a backlog. According to Patrick, you take those 10, 15, 20 projects that you’re desperately trying to attack today, make a list, and score each project on a scale of 1-10 based on importance. Then choose the one or two projects with the highest score and you work only on those projects until they’re done. Isn’t that a lot better than playing Task-List Whack-a-Mole?
Josh’s latest video has more great prioritization tips.
Shattuck agreed. After years of working with leaders of professional service firms, he said he’s learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work to produce growth. Turns out lack of focus–not lack of time–is the real culprit.
“Most leaders of professional service firms can define their top priorities with broad brush strokes, especially when establishing annual plans,” observed Shattuck in a recent Forbes article. “But it’s the stuff of everyday decisions and tasks that get in the way. Most people are so overcome by the minutia of little tasks that the big ideas never get the time or energy they deserve. This is a major problem because big ideas are the ones that produce growth,” added the founder of The Shattuck Group consultancy.
Randy believes it all boils down to two things: Getting things done and Focusing on The One.
1. GETTING THINGS DONE. With GTD, you write down everything rattling around in your mind and then categorize the list according to three simple criteria:
a) Do it now, for simple tasks you can do right away. “These are gratifying because it makes you feel really productive,” related Shattuck.
b) Do it later, for longer-term tasks.
c) Do more research, for tasks that are not quite actionable yet.
Shattuck believes the real benefit of GTD is getting things out of your head so you can fully focus on what really needs to get done right now. That requires a different approach that he calls “The One.”
2. FOCUS ON THE ONE. Shattuck admits he worked 80 hours a week when he first started his firm and would immediately tackle every single task that popped up. But after about five years of near-burnout his mindset shifted. Instead, Shattuck said he started to look “very closely” at how certain activities produced growth while others did not produce growth, even though each task on his list was considered important. “That’s when I began to ask myself this all-important question: ‘What is the onething I need to get done today to ensure we keep growing?’”
According to Shattuck, the activities that produce growth are not necessarily more time-consuming or more difficult to achieve than other tasks. “But if we don’t prioritize them, they won’t get done or they will only get done at half the level of effectiveness that we need.”
As our client Kyle Walters explained in a recent Accounting Today article about The 64/4 Rule….a whopping two thirds of our results (64%) come from just 1/25th (4%) of our time and effort. Think about that when you feel overwhelmed by your ever-growing To-Do list. Two-third of your results come from just 4 percent of time!
Most New Year’s resolutions fail because we set goals that are too ambitious, too hard to measure or too easy to defer. And that stems from not being honest with yourself. Take a page from Shattuck, Patrick, and Walters. Ask yourself what absolutely must get done today and how much you can reasonably do in a day–and do well. It won’t be an easy transition (trust me I know). But you’ll eventually find yourself with a lot more clarity which will translate into working fewer hours, while spending more time with the clients you like and ultimately higher revenue.
What’s your take? Please share. I’d like to learn more
#practicemanagement, #focus, #timemanagement