I recently completed an on-line coaching course run by Peter Bregman, author of “4 seconds” and “18 minutes”. One insight hit me right between the eyes. When you are ready to do something – stop thinking!
People often feel they have a motivation problem, when they are not doing what they planned to do, but in fact their problem is thinking too much about the task. We become very creative at finding excuses and postponing the activity.
If I planned an early morning swim, the best way to get into the cold water pool is to dive straight in – thinking about it only makes it worse. Best case, you postpone getting in, while you are busy thinking and worst case you may not get in at all.
When we allow our minds to plan our next activity, we tend to ignore the most important next action, and end up being busy with random activities off a to-do list, incoming phone-calls or letting other people’s priorities drive our next activity. This poor self management results in us not completing the most important things, despite being very busy with lots of activity.
Here is a 3-step process I use to ensure I actually do what I planned to do, in priority order.
- I start my year by planning my high level goals for my business. I summarise these in what I call my rocks – Peter Bregman calls them focus areas. This reminds me of the big picture and allows me to set some medium term milestones to track my progress.
- Every week I review my priorities against my key goals (my rocks) and determine the “next most important output”, that needs to be achieved this week. This weekly plan drives my daily activity plan.
- Every day I commit to plan my day and prioritise the list I call “If I do nothing else today, I will complete….”. I plan when I will work on this, in my diary. I happen to use Trello as it forces me to handle the activities in the order I pre-determined were the most important. Whatever system you use, fire yourself and let a cold hearted, objective system insist that you do what you said you would do.
In summary, start your day with planning - think deeply about it. Once in execution mode, stop thinking about it and just dive in to the activity you decided was the most important.