You probably think life would be so much simpler if you could just concentrate on only a few things at work. The reality is that we all have to juggle a wide variety of things, so you need to make choices.
A number of studies suggest that breaking goals down into specific action steps works when applied to a single goal. However, that approach tends to backfire when we have more going on. It seems we become more aware of the potential obstacles in our way when we have multiple requirements. That doesn’t mean there is not a pathway forward. The pathway requires some deliberate action and discipline and yet the payoff is tremendous.
So, what do you do if you need to make progress without getting overwhelmed? Consider these strategies.
Evaluate Your Current List of Goals
- Select three priorities. If you feel like you’re being pulled in all directions, take time to reflect on what matters most to you. You decide what you spend your energy on and in the EOS world we always say – ‘Less is more’.
- Be realistic about time limits. We often underestimate how long it will take to complete tasks. Ensure you know how much time you really have within a typical week, month and quarter to work on goals. I am sure there are some big goals you want to achieve, and you need to think through what it takes to reach them. Think less about the outcome (you know what that is) and think more about the process to get there.
- Decline requests tactfully. Learning to say no graciously will spare you from taking on excessive obligations. It’s okay to say no to a meeting that would be nice to attend but not necessary to attend. Learn to trust others and reflect back on the concept of – is doing this work commensurate to how much I charge out per hour? If not in the words of Nancy Reagan – ‘Just say no’.
- Stay up to date. Our objectives shift at different stages in our professional lives. Understand what is important to you and how you can best contribute. In other words, does your role satisfy your needs? If it does not meet your needs, you are most likely performing at sub-par (in your eyes or your business) and achieving goals can be really difficult when you are not motivated to the level required.
The Goals You Want to Keep
- Select role models. Researchers have found that we’re more optimistic about handling goals if we think the people around us are busier than we are. Get inspired by a work colleague, or a peer or anyone that is trying to do amazing things like run a marathon, finishing a masters program while holding down a busy job. It doesn’t matter where you source the role model from what is important is they can show what is possible. Additionally, you can explore what they have traded off to focus on their goals to learn more about yourself and how to navigate choices.
- Define your success. Figure out how to grade yourself. What does look like? This will help with other tasks that need to be completed along with your goals. Not everything needs to be completed to the same standard. It is okay to do some things to minimum standards and others well beyond that. Choose what matters and be a pragmatist.
- Merge projects into one. Just spotting the connections between one concern and another may make your life easier. A great fitness example of this is to focus on being healthy rather than counting every calorie. In your professional life think about the goals closely aligned and can be connected.
- Resist rushing. Slow down. Chronic stress undermines your performance across the board.
- Segment your time. Break your day up into broad time slots. Budget an hour to spend on writing a report. Devote the next half hour to responding to emails. Switching between activities will keep your mind fresh. Don’t try to do them all together, it will just become a melting pot of distraction, confusion and inefficiency.
- Master logistics. Organisation helps you get things done more quickly. Either the night before or in the morning work out what you need to achieve and what makes a logical sequence. It could be priority on some days and workflow on others.
- Work as a team. Rarely do individuals accomplish anything on their own. There are always supporters, confidantes, coaches, loved ones or work colleagues that contribute to success.
- Seek expert help. Shorten your learning curve by engaging with those that can help you. At times there may be an expense to this. The question to yourself should be – what if I don’t seek expert help, what is the cost to me and the goal? The answer to that question should assist you in understanding how much help to seek out. By the way remember to challenge yourself about what you don’t know or possibly could never know without asking for help.
- Know your best time of day. Schedule your most challenging demands for the times when you’re at your peak. If you’re an early bird, think about the best use of time in the morning.
- Stay fit. Protect your ability to pull off everything you want to do in life. Make sure your allocate time to stay in a healthy condition.
Pare down your goals, coordinate your efforts, understand yourself better and you’ll worry less and get more accomplished.