The Myth We’re Fed
From a very early age we are taught the more we know the better we’ll do. Every new piece of knowledge we acquire will help us see the world different and give us a better frame of reference. In this way, 1 + 1 + 1 = 3 and it comforts us in its simplicity. We believe the more we know the more successful we’ll be in life. Sounds like a reasonable argument so we go with it throughout our lives. That is, until your days never end!
Whenever the entrepreneurial bug hits us we try to adopt this thinking to further our success. Just like when growing up, we look at the seemingly endless mass of things we need to learn and do and try to fashion a way to get it into our heads. We schedule time for education (reading, videos, forums, etc.) and make a conscious effort to add one more piece of knowledge to our brains. We struggle to get stuff done because we’re sure whatever we’re learning right now WILL pay dividends later. We stop asking ourselves what’s important to us or what makes us feel alive because we’ve been taught that life is not always easy and it’s the same for learning.
A Glimpse of Clarity
With a heavy heart and spinning head we look out over the impossible task list, schedule or commitments we’ve made and cry “Uncle.” It finally hits us that we’re on a hamster wheel. We do things all day that make us feel like we’re getting things done but almost none of it matters to us or furthers our mission. We berate ourselves as being weak, stupid, lazy or uncommitted. This only serves to drain us of our creativity and passion. I think you can see the spiral that’s already in motion, so I’ll stop here. The main thing we need to see is that something’s got to give.
Finally, after years of pushing ahead and accomplishing nothing we’re actually proud of, it starts to sink in: I can’t just keep adding. I’ve GOT to subtract too!
The Focused Method
You can’t do everything yourself and be successful. You need to focus on the things you do well or at least enjoy doing. All the rest of it is subject to deletion. Here are some simple steps you can follow to free up your time and brain power for the things that really matter.
- Outline – Log in to your google account (or create one here , it’s free). Open a google calendar and set it for week view. Go to the far right and set up tasks. Take all the scraps of paper, sticky notes and project folders you may have and list each one of them under the task list. This should be an eye-opener from the start. Did you realize how much stuff you’re trying to get done each day and week? I know I didn’t. Make sure to list things you do every day here because we’re going to fit them into your week somehow.
- Schedule – Now, take every task you’ve created and put it into your calendar by clicking on a time slot and editing it. It’s very intuitive. You can also create recurring daily tasks from this interface. There are other things you can do with these tasks but concentrate on getting them on your calendar with an appropriate amount of time to accomplish them. You’ll probably see even at this point why you’ve been struggling because everything won’t fit in a week. Do your best to get as much as you can into your calendar.
- Rate – Now that you’ve got it on a calendar, I want you to go back over each task and assign a very simple rating to it. A plus (+) for things you enjoy doing, a minus (-) for things you hate doing and a big zero (0) for those you don’t feel strongly about either way.
- Edit and Delete – I’m sure by now you’ve seen the problem. Too much stuff and too much you hate doing. You can monkey around with the time periods to make them fit if you like. However, you should absorb the feedback from this exercise and start looking for things you can take off your plate. Are they really moving you along? Are they tying you up doing stuff you hate and sapping your energy for the stuff you’re really good at? Anything that falls into the latter category should be removed from the calendar and made into a task for later review.
- Review- Take a look at all of the things you’ve set for later review and ask yourself “Is this really something I need to be doing at all?” If it is, put it on your list for outsourcing. If not, just drop it and move on!
Second Glimpse of Clarity
Can you believe all the stuff that you thought you could do every day? Do you see why you never felt like you finished? I hope if I’ve accomplished anything here it’s to get you to take a hard look at all the stuff you try to do every day and how impossible that order was.
Then, I’d like you to be able to get rid of the stuff you just “thought” needed done that didn’t. Maybe start outsourcing the stuff that really needs done that you hate or are no good at. I think you’ll find both of these things will put time back into your days after a short period of time. Maybe some of the stuff you’ve uncovered just doesn’t need done this minute. Re-evaluate your goals if need be.
Here is a podcast from the Smart Passive Income site where Chris Ducker talks about the importance of outsourcing to your business and how it actually will put money back in your pocket when done right.
What Do You Think?
I’d love to hear about your breakthroughs while looking at your task lists and daily schedule. Leave a comment below and tell me about it.