If you're anything like me, you're often busy. But being busy doesn’t always mean productive. If you're juggling endless things, you'll know what I mean when I say ‘it feels like I’ve worked all week and done nothing.’
The truth is, you can’t do everything. Trying to work, volunteer, exercise, socialize and study will only leave you with half-finished projects. And it’s frustrating.
The secret to achieving more? It’s doing less.
Let me tell you the difference between dreams and goals. A dream is something that’s way out there. It’s big, it’s inspiring, and it’s a little scary. The problem with dreams is that if you ask people how they’re going to reach them, they say ‘I don’t know yet’. Or, they say ‘I’m sure things will come together.’ In other words, dreams are doomed to staying dreams.
Even though the word goal doesn’t sound as exciting as the word dream, goals are what will change your life.
The difference between a goal and a dream is that you can make a clear path to a goal. You might say, ‘I want to reach 5,000 sales.’ If you do your research and work hard, it’s an ambition you can fulfil.
But you can only achieve it if you prioritize it.
It’s not uncommon to have five or more dreams hanging around at once. I But I know that if I try everything at once, I’ll end up mediocre at all of them.
So, I’ve picked two of them, and I’ve created goals. I want to write a book. So, I’ve scheduled in three hours a day, for four days a week. I’ve turned a dream into a goal, and I’ve prioritized it. I also want to write great online content. So I’ve scheduled all my writing for the beginning of the week, and I’ve made a plan.
The thing about priorities is that must trim them down to the essentials. Have one big main goal. It might be ‘double my sales this quarter’, or ‘create a new product’. Then, you can have two or three focus points.
Having less to focus on will mean better results. It’s okay to have multiple goals, but one of them must be the ultimate priority.
If you’re drowning at work, stop. What’s actually important? Why are you so busy? Are you doing tasks you could delegate, or which don’t contribute to your most important goal? If you can't reach goals because you’re busy having repetitive lunch meetings, you must decide which is more important. It’s that simple.
If your goal is to make a million dollars by making tons of sales, it’s unlikely you’ll succeed. That’s just a glorified dream. Your goal needs to be SMART.
Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Having a clear path to them will help keep you motivated and focused. If your goals are too vague, you can’t be sure you’ve ever reached them.Click To Tweet
Instead, set goals within certain parameters. Instead of saying, ‘I’d like more sales’, say ‘I’d like ten extra sales per day by the end of next month'. I recommend having monthly goals for your business.
Your goal should be a challenge. You should have to work hard to achieve it. But it shouldn’t be impossible. There’s nothing more disheartening or frustrating than missing goals again and again. That said, you also shouldn’t set your goals so low that you can achieve them with ease. Stretch yourself.
Instead of aiming for a million dollars by making tons of sales, aim for your first 100 sales. Learning how to achieve those will give you the skills to move up to the next bracket, of 500 sales. Set smaller first tier goals which will pave the way for later accomplishments. Remember, everything should feed into your one top priority goal.
Your goal should be a challenge. You should have to work to achieve it. But it shouldn’t be impossible. There’s nothing more disheartening than an impossible goal. That said, you also shouldn’t set a goal so low that you can achieve it easily. Stretch yourself.Click To Tweet
It’s so easy to become sidetracked. Just type a letter into your search bar, and chances are something distracting will be recommended. It might be Facebook, or Twitter. It might be your favourite cooking site.
Here’s an easy trick: before you go to bed each night, tailor your computer for your goal. Delete your search history, and leave one window open. In that window, place something that’s relevant to you.
If your goal is ‘lower packaging costs by 10%,’ look up packaging types. That way it’ll be the first thing you see in the morning. You’ll get reminded of your goal, and you’ll be less likely to fall into the trap of aimless browsing before work.
Turn off your notifications on your phone and browsers as well. During the time you have allocated to your top priority, make it impossible to distract you. Your phone, email and skype should all get shut off and put away. It’s also worthwhile getting up earlier; if no one else is awake, you won’t have to divide your focus.
“Play leads to brain plasticity, adaptability, and creativity. Nothing fires up the brain like play.” – Stuart Brown
If your goal becomes the sole pursuit of your life, it will end up as a chore. Use your weekends to explore, rest and recuperate. Try to plan a small vacation every ninety days, and do it in advance. That way, it’ll function as a reset for you so that you’ll be re-energized for your next quarter.
There are many benefits to taking breaks. They can make you happier, increase your focus and maximize your productivity.
So instead of working endlessly long hours, work effective hours. Cut away non-essential tasks, focus on your goal, and use time you win to take a breather.
“When demand in our lives intensifies, we tend to hunker down and push harder. The trouble is that, without any downtime to refresh and recharge, we’re less efficient, make more mistakes, and get less engaged with what we’re doing.” - Tony Schwartz
Using these tips, you’ll be able to reach the goals which really matter to you. It can be hard laying other things aside, but it’s a habit which is invaluable to success. By focusing on one main set task at a time, you’ll be able to make your workload more efficient and effective.
- Lena Klein