Have you ever had those moments where you feel like you’ve been in this situation or gone through the day once before? A deja vu moment? Do you ever feel like you’re repeatedly putting out the same fires or reminding others to not make the same mistake?
At these moments, have you asked yourself, “Are we just going in circles or do we have a destination?”
It’s very easy to fall into this cycle and I’ve been there myself. Want to break out of your own personal Groundhog Day movie? Here are the six strategic steps I try to follow every morning. I don’t do all six every morning (that’s not the point), but I usually get at least three or four of them in each day. These steps help me stay focused, on task, and achieve more of my goals. How’s that for a strategic plan?
1. Quiet Time: For me, this means reading my Bible and spending time in prayer. This sets the tone for the rest of my day. For you, it may be meditation, reading something inspirational, or listening to music. This time helps me calm my spirit, gain inspiration, and seek wisdom for every area of my life.
2. Thankfulness Journal: As a Naptime CEO, it can be overwhelming at times with everything I’m trying to do: grow the firm, delight clients, encourage & guide my children, be chauffeur/chef/nurse/housekeeper/referee, deal with taxes & accounting issues – you get the point. By taking time daily to focus on what I’m thankful for, it helps me to focus on the positive side of each situation I need to tackle that day.
3. Books: A mentor taught me early on that while not all readers are leaders, all leaders are readers. As an avid reader, I read a lot of business, leadership, and personal development books. What I do in the morning is review what I’ve been reading to find one or two ideas or concepts that I can start putting into place or take action on. (For more on this topic, check out my post Stop Reading Books.)
4. Big Picture Thinking & Planning: I do this once a week, usually on a Monday or Friday. Now that I’m in a good frame of mind, I review my own personal life goals & values, my annual goals, and my action plan. This helps me stay focused on what I call my “True North” and lay out a plan that I believe will get me there. One of the keys that helps me on this point is having a weekly 30-minute accountability call with my friend and fellow entrepreneur James Woosley.
5. Block Out My Day: While I’m still not a master at this yet, I keep working at it. Instead of having task lists, I try to block out sections of my day for activities that will get me closer to my goals. This way I’m working on the important things in my business and life, not just the urgent. My friend Kent Julian, a life/career coach and speaker, taught me to make a weekly 1-20-80 list, which being the engineer that I am, I renamed a 1-19-80 list. Based on the Pareto principle, this list breaks my tasks down to the 1% of activities that are the most important to helping me achieve my goals today, the 19% of activities that will yield the greatest results towards my goals, and the other 80% of tasks that need to be done but may or may not get me closer to my goals.
6. Body: Finally, I invest time each morning in physical activity. By spending time running or weight training, I have much more energy to pour into my day and my clients. Not to mention, it helps me maintain my stamina for those long eight-hour training days. (Have to give a shout out to Steve & Jody Berkey of 90 Revelutions for the 13-in-13 challenge that keeps me accountable on this point.)
To be perfectly honest with you, I try to invest 60 to 90 minutes a day on these steps, but there are some days where I can only get 20 or 30 minutes in. However, I always invest some time into this because I’ve found that when I don’t, I end up wasting a lot of my time during the day and don’t achieve nearly what I had wanted to. A wise mentor of mine often reminds me “If you waste time, you waste every other resource that has been entrusted to you.”
Do you have tips for keeping yourself on track? Share them with us in the comments!