Are you rolling your eyes inwardly (another annoying person telling me how to do more!) and still getting drawn into the topic? “Wow, I know that there is so much to do that I have not done and I clearly did not achieve everything I really wanted” and “this headline really triggered me…and not in a good way”.
Well, now you are here you might just want to check out if there is anything NEW that you can do to actually achieve more, faster.
In my last article in which you could score yourself where you are on the scale of Personal Leadership, I gave you 9 questions to go through (in case you missed it go through the test and get your results right away – here we go).
One of the them was, “how productive am I”? If we strive to live the life and have the career we desire, we have got to get things done. Otherwise there won’t be any progress. “Oh, I don’t want progress”, you might think now. In that case you’re fooling yourself.
ALL human beings are striving for progress and growth throughout our lives. Be it at a personal level – I would like to become healthier, a better father, wife or husband just to name a few – or on a professional level – I’d like to find a job that really fulfills me, I’d like to become a better leader…or sometimes also simply I’d like to make more money so that my family are secure.
The second half of the year is about to start. So, this is a good opportunity to have a closer look at what we had planned for this year (I hope you have a plan…if not, this is even more important for you to read) and to see where we are, what did not work and how to accelerate our progress.
Alright, alright, before you get overly stressed now and run through the strategies, let me make one thing crystal clear:
This is NOTabout pushing you to do more and sacrifice your health, your time for yourself or your time with your family.
This is NOTabout you becoming crazy busy and even more overwhelmed than you possibly already are.
This is NOT about adding more things and to-dos to your calendar.
This IS about enabling yourself to show up in this world in the shape and form that you really want and to be able to make the difference you desire, for those people – few or many, that require you to be on your A-game!
Let me talk about some basic preparation before jumping into the strategies.
The other day I watched an online training of one my mentors and what he said struck a chord with me: Stop losing days to discouragement.
How many days have you lost because you lost momentum? Maybe someone judged you or your work harshly or you tried something new and you failed? Or maybe you had a bad day in your project, people did not listen to you or left you hanging? Or someone else doing the same thing as you are doing much better and are getting all the praise or even that promotion?
All of the above sucks. So, our emotions play up big time, we feel discouraged and give in to either getting lost in this feeling, wasting our time with distractions (yep, social media is the new booze) or simply overthinking stuff.
What you could do instead is honouring and accepting these feelings (always a good idea when feelings come up we don’t like…suppressing is purely temporary), analyse where the discouragement came from (was it a failure, did I compare myself to something or someone else?) and then ask yourself what the next right action could be. An action which is in alignment of YOUR goals. If you give into discouragement, the first person you’re letting down is yourself – and you don’t want that.
I’ve definitely gotten myself into this trap! And don’t get me wrong: sometimes we have moments in our life where we spend days on end focusing on ourselves and not being productive in the classic sense. When a major crisis hits on a personal level. When we fall into a black hole due to some trauma. Then though, this is not losing days to discouragement, this is rather using time to get back up on our feet and taking good care of ourselves. That’s an important difference.
When you look at the last 6 months, what worked for you and allowed you to progress?
For me, it’s was my daily energy exercises which keep my energy flowing and keep me alert and energetic throughout the day, yoga most days, my high performance planner, which I use to plan my days, having an accountability buddy and listening to alpha waves music while I do conceptional work. Having a good balance of focusing on my well-being and productivity.
When I don’t plan in the morning or don’t wake up my body, I can just bet that my day can become rather chaotic or I start reacting instead of staying focused on what is important.
So, what works for you? What helps you progressing and keeps you in a good flow and at a decent energy level? Whatever it is, do more of that – most of the time, that just means doing it more consistently – and you will see an automatic increase in the speed of your progress!
Whom? Yourself. Many of us sell ourselves too short, we downgrade our expectations of ourselves, as it can be pretty scary to imagine that people look to us as a role model. In our family, our jobs or communities.
Does your current identity match your mission that you’re following or have in mind? Are you even clear about who you want to be and what you’d like to achieve?
The way how you show up in your family, your important relationships, your job or your own business reveals the way you see yourself. Let me give you an example: If you show up in the office each day and just have in mind to survive and to get by when you’re the CEO of the company it’s very unlikely that you (or your business) really progresses. Or that you’re living your ideals, right?
You have got to show up in the role you have, take responsibility for your life and levelling up this role consciously to achieve the results you expect.
Be great in whatever role you have – mother, father, CEO, first-time line manager, junior level assistant. Get your vision for your life, your expectations for yourself and make an intentional effort to be the person you’re striving to be and do the things that will lead to you achieving your goals.
(Got no vision for your life yet – have a look here to start the processor let’s talkif you’d like to accelerate the process)
I’ve been working with physical visual boards for some years now – sometimes more, sometimes less. And have used them for projects, but also for workflows. In the more spiritual world, I have often heard about vision boards (even those can be done electronically now!), but never really liked to put my dream house, dream job or whatever on a list on the wall for all to see.
Very recently though I found a completely different way of using a PHYSICAL, visual board for progressing faster: the Battle Board (I love that title).
Basically, this is a board – could be a whiteboard or simply some very large piece of paper stuck to the wall, where you put your high-level plans on.
So, in case you don’t have anything like that yet, start one now for the rest of the year:
It contains 6 boxes with your monthly goals – in all areas of your life - the key activities, the metrics, the numbers, the events, the potential (big) hurdles.
Do you have a mission statement? Brilliant – put it at the top and maybe even the 1,2 or 3 words of who you want to be this year (link).
Keep it on a wall, so you see it EVERY DAY. And I bet that this will keep you aligned and focused! I’m currently working on updating mine – and just doing that focuses me and motivates me so much.
You can use that just for yourself, your personal life and business goals. Or you can develop it with your team and hang it up in your office. Whenever life and daily business threatens us with getting swept away in a direction that is not helpful, look at the board and immediately everyone in the team can re-align on a common set of goals and challenges.
And yes, the board can change. Or be adapted. When the market suddenly changes, or you find that some measure and path is so successful that you might postpone or kill other projects that you had in mind. The idea is to not get lost and to make sure you progress. The battle board will make sure of that. Don´t forget to update those challenges as well – these have a nasty habit of never really disappearing.
What gets you progress NOW in terms of achieving your goals? Is it reaching out to existing customers and asking for more business, or maybe in your private life it’s starting to eat one more healthy meal a day instead of that terribly attractive sandwich, fast food or bio-chocolate bar? Or it could be starting the transformation of a process in just one team instead of waiting for the big roll-out plan to be ready. You get my gist!?
I trust that you already know what you have got to do, what has worked before – so start doing it. Often, it’s the simple and often small moves that improve our business and lives RIGHT NOW.
I challenge you to test that for the next 30 days and watch your results ramping up!
Ah….aren’t most of us just very good at procrastinating and pushing things out? What is the first thing you do in the morning when coming to the office? Checking your e-mails and getting sucked into them? Talking to people and reacting to their demands right away? Or fire-fighting, when unexpected stuff comes up?
Been there, done that!
This results in us not progressing with our goals.
So, the pre-requisite for this strategy is that you actually have some kind of plan of your days and weeks. Otherwise you’re simply going through the motions and the likelihood of real progress is small.
Let’s assume you HAVE a daily plan or at least a very good idea of what you MUST get completed that day. If you had to be fully finished with your daily plan by 1 pm – what would you actually focus on? What are your major priorities (what has to be done TODAY, no matter what?) and your needle moving activities (those which will definitely bring you closer to your goals in big steps)?
So, start every day with this in mind – what must happen before 1pm today? Do not let anything distract you even if it means you blocking your calendar every day from 9:00-13:00.
Developing a done-by-one mentality is like your insurance policy for progress and it is incredibly powerful!
If you’re done by that time, you simply KNOW that things are moving forward and for the rest of the day you can dedicate to exploring new possibilities, fire-fighting or answer to demands from other people.
Now, you might say, “I’ve got so much to do, I don’t have enough time for everything”
Correct. Many of us know the feeling and we seem to be in a never-ending marathon, never really catching up with everything.
The reality though is, that most of us are wasting a lot of time with things and activities (or processes) which are NOT leading to our goals and we get distracted very easily. As soon as we adopt the done-by-one mindset, we start becoming much more aware of that and start becoming far more critical and picky, when it comes to what we really do with our days.
In practical terms – coming back to the e-mail flood – this could mean that you check your e-mails only selectively for those you expect an answer from, as this will most likely help you progress your next steps. All the other mails simply ignore for now and read/answer them in the afternoon. There is no requirement to open the latest e-mail from a colleague that is being sent to 10 other people NOW – this will only distract from your focus. Sometimes, even emails from the CEO can wait.
Do you know where you need help? Or what you could delegate to someone in your team/organization?
Help could be anything from getting more sales or an expert answer so that you can proceed with an important project. It could simply be getting some paperwork organized to not miss any deadlines internally or externally of the organization (tax, reports, you name it).
So, the first task of every day is to identify where you need help to progress, and instead of starting the day with reading e-mails randomly, WRITE e-mails to those who you require help from, you have a question for, or you choose to delegate something to. First thing in the morning. That means that you will get back what you need to move forward faster!
There are another 5 strategies coming up in my next article to boost your productivity and progress. For now, pick one or two from those I have shared today and start implementing them. I personally work on refining my battle board (I will share it with you in my next article) as having physical visibility of my own goals and major steps is immensely helpful for me. AND I choose to be more diligent about the done-by-one mentality – just thinking about doing it daily and not just sometimes, creates a feeling of relief. And one of achievement.
Want to dive deeper into leading yourself?
My methods bring about significant and rapid changes to all aspects of your Personal Leadership. Give me a call at +41 78 943 6974 (or write an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org) to open a dialogue on how these could be used to progress your professional and personal leadership.