“It’s too complicated and I feel confused. I just want some clarity,” my client, Matthew, said.
“I hear you. We’ve talked about your packed To-Do List. I’ve learned that a To-Do list is often a Guilt-List,” I replied.
It’s valuable to pull out the most important tasks from your complicated and crowded To-Do List.
When you do this, you get clarity, and you guard your personal energy. Bonus!–You banish feeling overwhelmed.
We’ll use the F.O.C.U.S. process:
F – Find options
O – organize by the most important
C – count on three
U – uncover your results
S – strategize for “droppables”
1, Find options
(Tool: Consider Box)
What’s most important for you to do today—or this week?
So many ideas are vague, and you’ll ultimately discard them. You don’t want them draining your energy nor cluttering your To-Do List.
Place them in the Consider Box.
With my own coach, I mention some ideas for future projects and future marketing plans. I note them and put them aside “into the Consider Box.”
It’s important to guard your personal energy. When an idea/task is in the Consider Box, it is not active and you avoid feeling guilty about not getting around to it.
What do you want to put into your Consider Box?
2. Organize by the most important
(Tool: Progress One Page)
Something is the most important for you. Use one page (your Progress One Page) to track your progress. Check off that you worked on the one task each day. Some of my clients track their daily exercise on one page (taped to their bathroom mirror).
Jerry Seinfeld gave a young comic Brad Isaac a tool that has become known as “Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret.”
Jerry said: “Put a big wall calendar for a year on a wall. For every day you do your writing, you get to put a big red X over that day. After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain. Don’t break the chain.”
Using the Progress One Page follows the pattern that Jerry talked about.
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3. Count on three
(Tool: Top 3 Sheet)
For example, at one point, I held certain priorities:
- Revise my novel
- Write a webinar
- Revise my leadership book
With my Top 3 Sheet, I made sure to do these tasks every day and check them off.
The Top 3 Sheet is one page in which you list your top three most important tasks, and you check them off daily. Some of my clients keep their Top 3 Sheet on a corkboard where they can see it daily.
I have a phrase: Make it a game you can win.
4. Uncover your results
(Tool: Evaluation Box)
One of my clients identified three top priorities for the week: a) Health, b) Efforts that bring in clients and c) Long-term, enjoyable work.
Every week, we went over her list. She would apply an evaluation of her weekly progress per her three top priorities:
Green – good
Yellow – caution
Red – it’s a problem; fix this.
The power of this Evaluation Box system is that you’re holding yourself accountable. You stay aware of what you’re doing and what you’re failing to do.
You’ll find that using this pattern of awareness leading to correction to be helpful.
5. Strategize for “droppables”
(Tool: Select Droppables)
“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. ” – Michael Porter
“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.”— Steve Jobs
We can’t do it all. Not at one point in time. And, some tasks/projects become obsolete. At one point, I had two major projects TimePulse and Jack AngelSword. These are entertainment franchises that will feature books/ screenplays/graphic novels/toys and more.
My intuition gave me a question to ask new interns working with my company: “Which would you rather work on TimePulse or Jack AngelSword?” Unanimously, the new interns said, “Jack AngelSword.”
My entertainment franchise work is for young people and others. On hearing such feedback, I realized that I preferred to work on Jack AngelSword, too. (This year, I’m releasing two novels featuring Jack AngelSword.)
So, I completed a book (a collection of my short fiction) that had three TimePulse stories in it. And then, I made TimePulse a droppable. That is, I dropped TimePulse from my company’s schedule.
At another time, I had 14 projects on my corkboard. I dropped six and quickly completed four projects. Then, I carried onward with four.
If you feel overwhelmed, see what you can make into a “droppable.”
In summary, be sure to focus on the most important.
The Tools I shared are:
- Consider Box
- Progress One Page
- Top 3 Sheet
- Evaluation Box
- Select Droppables
Spoken Word Strategist – Executive Coach
Speaker-Author, 44 books so far 🙂
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