On this week’s episode of SUCCESS Line, I talk to an alumni of our very own SUCCESS Coaching who is now growing a coaching business himself. He recently gained three new clients in three days, and while he is excited, he is also feeling overwhelmed by his now jam-packed calendar.
We’ve all been there: Our calendar is a mess and Post-it notes filled with to-do lists cover our desk. We are left wondering, “How can I possibly juggle all of this at once?”
Regardless of where you are in your career, it can be incredibly difficult to know what to focus on at each moment. I’ve been there myself, and I was lucky enough to have a mentor who taught me a way to stay organized and spend the maximum amount of time pursuing my passion. If you are overwhelmed and looking for a way to find focus, read on for the three questions I ask myself every day to stay on track.
1. Does this move me closer to my vision?
Every single time someone or something needs me, I ask, “Does this move me closer to my vision?” It doesn’t matter if it is someone stopping by my office, an email coming in or even the mailman at my door, every task is filtered through this lens.
If the answer is yes, the next steps are simple. I either complete the task immediately or carve out time on my calendar to complete it later.
If the answer is no, I ask, “Does it require me to be the person doing this?” If it doesn’t require me, then I need to find a leverage component to take it off my plate. This leverage component could be a variety of things—a person, a system or a tool—but what is important is that it is no longer my job.
Some things, however, do require my personal attention. For example, expensing my credit card account has to be done by me, but it does not move me closer to my vision. To deal with these tasks, I block in an hour of “clean-up” time every day. When a task like expenses comes up, I slot it directly into that hour. Now I don’t feel anxious that the task won’t get done and I can get straight back to focusing on what is moving my vision forward.
This system forces you to get into the discipline of remembering that every time you say yes to something that doesn’t move you closer to your vision, that takes time away from something that does. If you stay aligned with your vision, focus and efficiency will follow.
2. Is it still the right vision?
If the task at hand is moving me closer to my vision, I then ask, “Is it still the right vision?”
Often, we get so tied into one vision that we don’t allow ourselves to adjust when necessary. It doesn’t mean we have to radically change our plans, but through experience and time we can refine our vision into something more precise.
Entrepreneurship is a process of evolution. As we learn and grow, we need to be flexible to the changes that may come up. We set out with one destination in mind, but we might find ourselves going down a detour along the way. We might still arrive in the general area we sought out, but over time we redefine where exactly our destination is.
Asking yourself this question every day allows you to stay open to the possibility of your vision changing and to say no to tasks that no longer fit.
3. Am I still the right leader?
Here is where we turn the question back onto ourselves: “Am I still the right leader to move this company toward our vision?” Or, “Am I becoming the leader necessary for this organization to get where it wants to be?”
When we are in the thick of running a business, it is easy to get to the point where we are just putting out fires—we keep everyone happy, reply to all of the emails and make sure the printer is working. We are trying to do everything at once without taking a moment to slow down and look at the bigger picture. The power in this question is that it forces you to analyze what it is you are seeing repeated. What is the lesson I need to learn from these small fires I keep putting out? Where are the areas I need to grow in order to become the leader this organization needs?
We cannot let the urgent pull us from the intentional. Focus begins with discipline and habit. Try asking these three questions when tasks come up this week—I think you will be amazed to see how much more efficient, focused and flexible you are.