When I got to Singapore my visa didn’t allow me to work. Then, when I finally found a way to launch my own company, I was so excited and enthusiastic that I put the whole aspect of planning the business to one side.
I threw myself headlong into my work without a well-defined focus. I thought that by doing a thousand things all at the same time I would get more results and would do so more consistently. How wrong I was!
The mistake of wanting to do too much
I started giving in-person courses, offering both online and in-person coaching sessions and attending networking events. I began to create partnerships with other businesses, to collaborate with local universities, and to set up meetup groups for women. I became a product distributor for other life coaches, wrote a motivational book, and organised online mastermind groups. I started learning how to speak in public, and so on, and so on…
I very soon realised that I was doing everything I could and much more, but that the direction in which I was heading was unclear.
I often woke up tired and frustrated, because I had the impression I was on a hamster wheel. Despite having a very efficient morning routine, I felt as though I was running and running and running but never getting anywhere concrete.
I finally started earning money, but I wondered again and again whether it was all worth the hassle. And I’m by no means one of those lazy people who don’t want to work hard – quite the opposite!
Things were getting out of hand. All I did was work and work and work… I felt as though I was trapped in an occupation that I had wanted and pursued with all my heart.
And, worse still, I had the feeling I wasn’t really progressing very far because I had so many projects on the go that had been launched, but that were all at too early a stage to become a cornerstone of my business.
Focus on just a few things at once
As the months passed I realised that the key is not to be doing a lot of things all at once. It’s better to be doing just a few things but to do them well.
Sure enough, every time I set myself a well-defined objective and made it my top priority, I managed to finish it in a short time.
When I concentrated on just a few things and gave myself a deadline, as if by magic I was able to get them done within the planned timescale, sometimes even sooner.
Are you thinking of the Pareto principle? Also known as the 80–20 rule, this principle can be summarised as follows: the majority of effects come from a limited number of causes.
In a professional context, it seems that 80% of the results you achieve come from 20% of your work.
Who was it who said that the more you do the more you achieve? Actually, in our case, it’s better to do a small number of useful things and keep these things as the focus of your attention.
The expression ‘work smarter, not harder’ nicely sums up this idea.
Organise your time and activities
So, this is what I’ve done to ensure I stay focused and concentrate on the most useful activities.
First of all, I clearly defined my vision and what I want to create through my business. I explain how to do this in this article.
I then created a yearly calendar in which I set out the objective I want to achieve by the end of the year. I keep this calendar in clear view so that I can look at it frequently (and so that I don’t ‘forget’ my goal).
Then, for each month of the year, I wrote down my milestones, or, in other words, the results I wanted to achieve by the end of each month (which will lead me to achieve my goal for the year).
I use Asana to organise things because it helps me get a comprehensive overview of my business. I’ll tell you more about this software in future because I find it a fantastic way to manage tasks and avoid losing track of things.
Every Monday morning I plan out the days of the week, taking into account my monthly objective. I identify the activities I consider to be really useful, as well as the concrete results I want to achieve each day. I do this on paper using a simple weekly planner.
Each morning I double-check my weekly plan and create a to-do list consisting of the concrete actions I want to do that day. I do this on a post-it note, keeping it brief and concise (let’s stay focused on that 20% which produces 80% of the result!)
I try to make sure that I have as few actions to take as possible, but I don’t always succeed at this. When the list of actions is long, I order them by priority, deciding on the three most important, so that I can be sure I finish them by the end of the day.
Monitor and review your progress
- What results have I achieved over the past month?
- What has worked well and why?
- What were the obstacles I encountered and why?
- What have I learned that could be useful for the future?
- What could I do better next month?
Based on this end-of-month ‘check-in’ I look at my objectives for the following month and adapt them if necessary, optimising my daily and weekly schedules as a result.
In this way, I’m assured of achieving useful results, by utilising my time and energy in the best possible way.
You can even download this free form to help you plan your time as well as possible and to measure your progress.
Here we are at the end of the article. I’ll sign off with the following questions:
- How do you manage your time so that you get concrete results?
- How do you organise your working day?
Let me know your answers in the comments box. Share what has worked for you.
See you next time,