Updated: Jan 28, 2020
Goals and to-do lists are all the rage this time of year. And there is an unfortunate stigma around New Year’s resolutions that while they may be full of good intentions, no actual accomplishing happens with them. At least not long-term.
Here are two quick tips for goal-setting that I had great success with in 2019 and have very successfully carried over into 2020 with me.
1. No more than two “Mission Criticals” per day
This is a great one I learned from Tim Ferris, author of The Four Hour Work Week, in early 2019. He says that instead of writing the endless to-do list and being forever disappointed and ashamed by not getting a large portion of it done on any given day, he chooses two Mission Critical items that must get done and prioritizes them above all other tasks for that day.
I implemented this practice in 2019 and found it massively helpful.
It forces you to focus. If nothing else gets done today, the completion of which two tasks would more the most important projects forward and make you feel productive and on the right track?
It saves you from shiny-object syndrome by preventing you from waffling back and forth between different tasks whenever the current one gets too difficult. If you've only got two tasks, there's at least less to waffle between even if you still struggle to stick to one until completion before starting on the other.
It frees you from task-intimidation-paralysis. If you don’t have a majorly intimidating task list squatting in the back of your mind whispering how impossible it all is anyway so why not sit on Instagram a little longer, there’s no excuse to avoid the less imposing mere TWO Mission Criticals.
It increases your productivity. By saving you from giant-task-list-intimidation and focusing you on two manageable things, it enables you to actually get things done. And when you get things done, you feel empowered and on a roll and like it would be a great idea to get another thing accomplished.
Then you can stare down that giant list, knowing you’ve already conquered all the most important tasks for the day, and get an extra thing or two done. So when you cross off the two Mission Criticals and one extra item, for a total of three, you can appreciate how much you’ve accomplished and encourage positive energy rather than seeing how you only got three of the 14,792 things done for the day.
2. Define the task or portion of task to be done. Quit using “work on” at the beginning of any to-do item!
Do you ever write down “work on chapter three” and then stare at chapter three for an hour and cross it off because technically you did “work on it?”
Don’t do that!
I’ve found that if I define a task, I can more accurately estimate how long it will take and how much more of the whole project will be left.
So instead of saying “work on chapter three” I have started defining it as “finish writing chapter three” or “address plot hole in chapter three.”
I know that finishing the chapter might take an hour, where addressing a plot hole that has ramifications throughout the rest of the book could take three. This helps me plan my time better so that I can be more efficient and more positive, knowing that I’m not falling behind and feeling cruddy for some undefinable lack of progress.
There you go!
With these two methods of to-do-listing, I was way more productive in 2019. And not only because it helped me be more organized, but also because I could see more clearly what I was getting done and that I was using my time well, which upped positive energy and a healthy perspective, which made me feel more like doing more things even though I was tired.
While to start a successful online business you need to be willing to do the work even when you don’t feel like it, feeling like doing it is really nice when it happens!