Lead a vivid life that does good

Tag: GTD

3 ways to stay focused on your goals

FocusA number of years ago Bill Gates’ mother held a dinner party and invited both Warren Buffet (super rich guy) and Bill along. At the dinner party she ask what they believed was the single most important factor for their success. Both Bill and Warren gave the same one-word answer: “Focus.”

Focus is one of those annoying words that continually collides with my life. Historically I would not regard myself as a particularly focused person, but slowly over the years I have been improving. As I have improved I have realised that FOCUS requires constant, well focus, on three areas:

1. Turning Goals into Priorities

In order to be focused you must know what you are focused on. The word after all means “the centre of interest or activity.” Without having goals, both in business and personally, you won’t have interests or activity to centre yourself on.

But just as important as having goals, is reviewing them very frequently and setting actions. For me this involves a weekly review of my goals and strategies to set the course for the week, then almost daily reviewing these and setting actions for my day ahead.

Simply said. To focus you must have goals and resolve to take action daily.

2. Be in the Right Space

Now that you have your priorities you need to have a work-space where you can actually get on and do the work without too much interruption. As your all know, not all work spaces are the same. Some of us have our own office and others work in open plan.

The key thing to remember is that different focus, requires different spaces. Sometimes I need to work in my office as I need the tools there to do the work. Other times I can sit with my laptop in a café. Other times I go on a walk with a piece of folded up paper and a pen (so I can leave my phone behind). Depending what you are focusing on determines the space you should be in.

Once in the right space and ready to focus, it’s important to eliminate as many distractions as possible. This mainly involves communicating with the team around you that you are focusing a major goal for a period of time.

3. De-clutter ALL Distractions

I was reading yesterday that the average Facebook user in New Zealand checks Facebook 14 times a day. Social media is great for connection with people, but for most of us it distracts us from their goals. Similarly in our work-spaces there are distractions everywhere, so it is little wonder we struggle to focus. As I’ve become more focused I have had to take some pretty radical steps and a few of these are below:

  • Implement GTD (Getting Things Done). It’s a book. Buy it. Implement it.
  • Have a tidy work-space and try to only have the work in front of you, that you are focusing on. This stops distractions.
  • Turn off every type of email notifications on every device. My focus doesn’t last long, the last thing I need when a new email arrives is an excuse for my brain to get distracted.
  • Turn off notifications on your phone. All of them at first, then bring the critical ones back in. Social Media are unlikely to be the ones you turn back on. While you are at it, delete the most distracting apps from your phone.
  • Relentlessly remove yourself from email lists. The goal of an email is to distract you and get you to check in on their website. Our goal is to not be distracted and to have as much focused time as possible.

Distraction is everywhere which makes focus incredibly hard. If focus is important, you need to radically reduce the distraction. You can still clear Facebook, or check out websites. Just not when they prompt you and not when you are focused.

Becoming more focused is a constant struggle for me. I get constantly distracted and interrupted and I take on too much. All distraction comes at the expense of the goals I think are really important for me.

That said, the more I focus, the more I appreciate the value of focus and the more determined I become on my quest for more.

I’d love to hear if you have tips for becoming more focused, so comment and let me know what you think.

Stuck! – Do you really know the next step?

Next StepIt was a bleak, grey morning, and my 14-year-old daughter sat on the couch in her pyjamas, really struggling to get started on a massive homework project that she had. It was as though the burden of the project hung over her as dark as the clouds outside. The project seemed daunting and unachievable.

After some cajoling, I managed to get her to get dressed and we headed off to a cafe down the road. And that’s when I started to teach her (as best a dad can) to work out what the next step was. I asked her to break down the next step … then break it down further … and then break it down even more, until we got to the real simple achievable next step.

The problem a lot of us have when we’re faced with a big task, or with an assignment or with a massive project, is that we keep thinking about the outcome, and we fail to break it down to the next step.

What is the very next thing that I need to do?

In the case of my daughter’s protest poetry, she had to first narrow down who it was she was going to protest about. She had to find two or three people, or causes, that she could protest about. Once she had those, she had to decide on one! That was the next step.

And then once she had that, she had to break that down and learn something about the cause that she was protesting for. Then brainstorm the verses of the poem. Then she was away.

Easy … or at least easier.

When you’re faced with a challenge, or a project or an assignment, how can you break it down further?

How can you look for that next step?

What might that next step be? One that you could complete in a few minutes that would move you forward.

Once you are moving it’s surprising how momentum follows.

Why I make Caring a task

Team Agoge 2013At Agoge one of our essential values is “be caring”. As the guy at the top I see it as a core responsibility to cast a shadow of caring across the entire organisation. One of the ways I do this is I aim to touch base with our core team in the company at least every month or so.

Often I fail, because aiming to touch base is different to actually calling. For example recently, when I rang Brendon, we pretended like we hadn’t talked in years, when in fact we hadn’t spoken in a month or so.

After Brendon’s call, I knew that I had to once again make caring a task. I changed how it appeared in my weekly review, and I plan to check in on a couple of people a week.

To some, making caring a task feels wrong. Shouldn’t caring be spontaneous and in the moment? Yes, caring should be spontaneous, and yes caring should be planned.

By making caring a task, you make sure that the people you care about, actually know you care.

That’s the case with our team. They are awesome people spread all over this country and I care deeply for them. If I don’t make caring a task, the busyness of business can allow far to much time pass before we catch up.

And because I care, that can’t be the case!

 So who do you need to make a task to care for today?

Who have you been meaning to call or visit, and left far too long?

Why not capture that task right now.

They will appreciate it.

Creating a personal strategy to help you achieve your dream and goals.

GoalsOne of the funny things about returning from annual leave is that I often have this utopic desire to live a more purposeful life. I guess the relaxation, uninterrupted time with family and the space to think, lead me to want to create more of those spaces in my normal life.

Recently after returning from leave I realised that in our business we have strategies to move us towards our vision and these strategies help us choose the right actions.

In my personal life however, I had never put strategies in place and this needed to change.

Understanding the difference between vision and strategy and actions can be difficult so here is a personal example.

  • Vision is your dream or long-term goals. One of my visions is to “be a person of influence” (hopefully a positive one).
  • Strategy is a high level way of getting to your vision. My current strategies for increasing influence are “connecting with 4 people each week” and “writing weekly”.
  • Actions are the things you do each week to get that align to your strategy. My actions are appointments I have with people and time I actually spend writing.

The truth is I haven’t written each week and I haven’t met with 4 people each week. But, I have written more and connected with more people each week. I also track how I am going in my personal weekly check list which I review in my weekly review (this is the key to not forgetting it).

And even though I don’t achieve it each week, my influence is growing, and I am meeting and connecting with more people, which is energizing me and making me a better person.

Most importantly each week is deliberately better than it would be without them.

So what will your strategies be?

If you would like to see my current strategies, I have posted them at outward.me.