Do You Know Where You’re Going?
If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else. David Campbell
Does this quote sound like you?
Do you know where you are going?
Do you feel like you are always busy but never get anything done?
Do You Have Lots of Lists but Nothing to Show for It?
My sister-in-law works in a pawnshop and one day she discovered a list that a customer left behind in the shop (true story–I’m not making this up…):
Pretty obvious this individual needs to get more figured out than just how to check things off the list. He (or she) needs to find a different path to follow and hopefully a different list!
No matter what your To Do List looks like we can all deceive ourselves into thinking that just because we are checking things off that we are living a productive intentional life. This has been true for me as well.
Living an intentional goal oriented life is a relatively new experience. I’ve always been organized with lots of to-do-lists. I’ve always worked hard. Since I was quite productive and was checking things off my to-do-list, I felt confident I was moving forward.
Accomplishments however, in and of themselves are not always the desired end result. It is possible to be highly organized, energetic and productive but all in the wrong direction, much like someone who lives in New York and travels to California by way of Florida. You can check off a lot of landmarks along the way but you may never arrive at your destination.
The Key to Living Intentionally
What makes the difference? Priorities and Focus. In the past, I created a long never-ending list of stuff to accomplish. About three years ago, I realized the importance of setting goals first and then tackling the list. It’s not that I get any more done. It’s that the things I get done are the things that move me along the path of accomplishing the goal. Just having a goal creates focus and helps in setting priorities.
I’ve also found that in each major area of my life, it helps if I determine a theme for the year. In previous posts I’ve talked about choosing one word to orient my focus. This year my word is possibilities. This means that as I plan my schedule for each week and month, I look for and expand my possibilities. So far this year, I’ve attended an author event in Tennessee and this week I’ll travel to South Carolina to speak at the Palmetto School Counselor Conference. I’m finding lots of possibilities!
Five Ways to Increase Your Productivity
In the past, I just tried to work harder and longer. But no matter what I did, my lists just got longer and longer and I never seemed to get finished. I was often frustrated that the things I really wanted to do never got done. At the end of the day, I had lots of little things done but still hadn’t focused on my writing or gotten the one thing done that would create some income. Does this happen to you?
There are several reasons why we so easily get lost in the details and the seemingly urgent but not so important tasks of our lives. One reason is that our brain craves completion. We are naturally drawn toward tasks that are easily and swiftly completed. This is why you mean to get that article written or that client on the phone but instead you find yourself emptying the dishwasher. There is a natural resistance to something that is open-ended but short meaningless tasks are very seductive. How many times have you found yourself completing these tasks because it will “only take a minute”? I’ve developed several techniques for making sure that I stay on track and focused during my working day. This is especially important as an entrepreneur working out of my home. Distractions are everywhere!
- Have a daily focus time first thing in the morning
- Develop a daily checklist which includes your One Thing (the one thing to get done no matter what)
- Create a schedule and begin the day by completing your One Thing
- Work in regular 55 minute bursts of focused energy followed by 5-10 minute breaks
- Set aside a particular time for emails, phone calls, text messages and stick with it!!
What about you? Are you living life on purpose? Do you need some help?
A year from now you will wish you had started today… Karen Lamb