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You have at least the seeds of the will to succeed (who knows, you might have a whole forest of will to succeed) – and seeds are all you need to start with.
Now, let’s get you some skills. If you take the skills, use the seeds of the will to put them in place, you will start to see success. The more success you see, the more those seeds of the will to succeed will grow. The more they grow, the more you will use the skills – it becomes a virtuous cycle spiraling you to ever higher heights.
The Focused Time Target
What skill should we start with then? How about your own success schedule, built just for you and your success?
Get whatever you use to keep your schedule now. Outlook, a kitten calendar, an expensive day planning book – whatever you have the most comfort and skill with. You can use it for all the things you are currently doing with it, but you are going to start scheduling some additional appointments – with yourself – to help you do the important things in life.
Note, I said the important things in life, you probably already have the urgent things scheduled. So what’s the difference?
Important things have large values for you. It might be a big value to a relationship you have, or a big potential return for the value of your business, or whatever. The point is that there is a lot of value – to you – to spending that time in that activity. Urgent things have a deadline – a time they are expected to be done by – usually expected by someone else.
For most people, the more urgent something is, the more important it is – that is why most people hold jobs and don’t own successful businesses. As long as urgency is determining what is important for you, you are ceding control of your schedule to other people – and they are owning your schedule – not you.
Activities can be Urgent, Important, both, or neither. For more information about how to determine which of the four categories an activity is in, sign up for my free report Secret 1 – Get More Done
Focus Activities are important but not urgent. Focus Activities sharpen the ax so we can cut more efficiently. Focus Activities are where an investment of a little time results in more effective marketing, more efficient processes, a more valuable business. Focus Activities are where we replace the ax with a chainsaw. Focus Activities don’t happen if we allow everyone else – with their urgent claims – to dictate our schedule. The Success Schedule is all about making time for Focus Activities.
Stones, Pebbles, Sand, And Water
The story is told of a Time Management Master who was approached by his young apprentice.
“Tell me, master, how can I get important things done when I am so busy with everything else?”
“Ah, Grasshopper, go and get a jug, five large stones, a sack of pebbles, a sack of sand, and a pitcher of water.”
Puzzled, Grasshopper went and retrieved the items.
“Now, Grasshopper, place the stones in the jug”
Grasshopper did as he was asked…
“Now, place as many pebbles as you can in the jug”
Grasshopper did as he was asked…
“Now, place as much sand as you can in the jug”
Grasshopper did as he was asked…
“Now, fill the jug with as much water as it will hold”
Grasshopper did as he was asked…
“Grasshopper, the jug is your time, the items you put into it your activities. What is the lesson of the jug?”
Grasshopper thought for a moment, “Master, the lesson is that no matter what is on your schedule, you can always fit something else in?”
“No!” the Master shouted, smacking him on the head, “The lesson, O thick one, is this – how many stones would have fit if you had started with the water?”
Demands and delusions (pebbles and sand) are going to tend to get done unless we specifically say “no” to them. Actually, this is a skill I have coached more than one person on. If you are one of those people that always says “yes” to anyone’s urgent activity, whether it is important or not, here is a tool you can use to get more control in your life. Get a 3×3 sticky note in a bright color (neon pink or yellow work well). Get a marker that will contrast well with the color of the sticky note (black is fine). In the largest letters that will fit on the sticky note, clearly print the word “NO” and put the sticky note where you will see it when people are burying you in “should”. Use this word as needed to get out from under the “should” pile…
Distractions (water) also tend to show up a lot. Because of our default human mindset distractions will, like water, tend to flow in to fill all the available space in your schedule that isn’t allocated somewhere else.
The key to scheduling success is to start scheduling the important, zone activities – the large stones – so that you actually start getting their benefits on a consistent basis.
Your Success Schedule will have three general types of activities on it. “Work in” time, “Work on” time, and “Work for” time.
“Work on” time is called Focus Time. It is one (maybe two) blocks of time every week that you set aside to spend 1.5-2 uninterrupted hours specifically working on a project that will help your business grow. For example: New marketing materials, plans for a new marketing campaign, developing a new product/service, something that builds your business up.
The Single Most Important Thing In This Whole Book
If you don’t get anything else out of this book – get this. The single most important “big rock” you need to be sure is in your schedule every single week is Focus Time. Every single week, once a week (at least) for an hour and a half to two hours, shut the office door, turn off the phone, ignore the email and social media alerts, and focus on one project that is important, but not urgent. It might be a new marketing campaign, updating your sales script, putting together a new standard operations procedure, determining what your Critical Community Contribution is – something that will have lasting value, but doesn’t have an external deadline.
It is also important that you focus on one thing. Space doesn’t permit a full explanation of why, but research into “multi-tasking” proves over and over that focusing on one thing at a time yields better results. Try to finish the project in a single focus time. If you can’t, use the next focus time for that specific project again. Get one done before moving on to another.
The single most important thing you can do…
Your Success Schedule also has “Work for” time – time that is devoted outside your business to those things that you work for. Work for time can also be divided into three areas, friends, family, and personal.
Personal time is also divided into three types, but this is the last division. Personal time consists of physical, mental, and spiritual.
For more information about the various types of activities and the Triple Triple Time Focus model to help you get more Important things done, sign up for my free report Secret 1 – Get More Done
The heart of the Success Schedule is identifying the Important, non-Urgent activities – the big rock activities – in our life and make time for them first. If you do, you are likely to find enough time for pebbles, sand and water. But, as the Master asked Grasshopper – how many big stones will you fit in if you start with the water?
One of the most important things the Focused Business Community does to be successful, is weekly planning. In fact, the heart of a Focus Group is a weekly review and goal setting activity that really drives success. This essentially consists of three parts: Weekly Goal Setting, Weekly Review, and Weekly Goal Review.
Once a week, every active member of the community writes down 1-5 work-on your business goals they will attempt to complete that week. If you were part of our community, you would look at your quarterly plan (more on that in Quarterly Goal Prioritization), and decide what needs to go on your goal list for that week.
At the end of the week, you would look at the list and note which ones were completed (hopefully all of them) and note the impact of completion or non-completion. The end of the week would also be when you did a more general review of what you had learned and accomplished during the week.
For more information about weekly planning including an example planning tool sign up for my free report Secret 1 – Get More Done
Frog Parable or The $1,500,000 Secret
There is a guy who is a legend in our community. You see, Uncle Joe eats the most unique breakfast I can imagine. Every day, he gets up, goes out to the marsh behind his house, catches a frog, and eats it raw. One time I asked him why he ate such a disgusting breakfast and Uncle Joe replied, “Well, ya see it’s this way, after I eat my frog first thing, I figger nothing worse can happen for the rest of the day…”
I tell you that story not to encourage you to start eating live frogs for breakfast, but to make a different point. Like me, I’m sure you have tasks that seem to be as unwelcome as eating a frog. Tasks you put off, avoid, and, too often, don’t get done when you should. Curiously enough, they also tend to be tasks that you need to do to work on your business instead of just in it.
Part of the discipline of planning is setting priorities, scheduling tasks, and otherwise trying to maximize the time you spend on important tasks – some of which are frogs to eat. One way you can do this is to use the secret that Andrew Carnegie paid the equivalent of $1,500,000 for.
Last thing every work day, sit down and plan the next work day. When you do, choose three important tasks to get done. If you are really ambitious, you can write one frog and three other tasks, but no more than four. Write them down on a whiteboard or somewhere you will see them easily all day long. I use a system of sticky notes. Others successfully use electronic to-do lists.
Make sure one of them is a frog you have to eat (unless they are all taken care of – something that may occur on rare occasions). Put the frog you have to eat at the top of the list and, if at all possible, do it first thing the next work day morning, before tackling the other important tasks.
This way you get the advantage of Uncle Joe’s breakfast, you get an important task you don’t want to do out of the way, and can concentrate on a manageable list of important tasks you are more willing to do for the rest of the day. If you don’t eat your frog first, it is likely that you will find yourself doing unimportant tasks and rationalizing instead of eating the frog.
Eat your frog each day – the day will be more productive when you do…
For more information about daily goal planning and tracking, sign up for my free report Secret 1 – Get More Done
Finally, a couple of questions: How do you spend your time? How do you know that answer is correct?
One of my coaches pointed out that there is no such thing as time, only life. You don’t waste time, you waste your life. From time to time, especially when you are having trouble getting everything done, a time audit is a good way to understand how you are spending that precious resource – you life.
Once you have the results, you can ask yourself – Is the mix something you are happy with? If not, what, specifically, do you want to change and how are you going to do that?
For more information about time audits, sign up for my free report Secret 1 – Get More Done