The Shortest Point
I know how cliche and obvious it sounds but..
If you find yourself getting hours into your work and not being able see anything complete, you’re probably taking what I call “side roads” to your goal. Unfortunately, as in real life, side roads don’t always lead back to the main road (your goal) and can sap your creativity in the process.
Start At The End
If you’ve done your work before the week begins and laid out the most important things you need to accomplish this week then selecting activity number one should be easy. Take a piece of paper and on the right margin right that single goal down. Then, move over to the left column and write what you’re starting with. Sometimes, this will be enough to catch yourself wandering. For instance, if your goal is “finish my sign up landing page” and your first action is “checking email” you need to ask yourself right away why you’re starting with that. If the answer is “because that’s how I start every day” then you may have nipped a time waster/productivity stealer in the bud.
Instead, why not go back to the goal and build backwards. I know we hear this ALL the time. How often do we actually heed that advice? Working backwards, we might have something like “log in to WordPress and open my landing page” or “locate the bribe’s graphic and insert it into the landing page” depending on where you’re at with the project.
Don’t Leave Large Gaps
Gaps are the killers here! How many times have you started working on a goal and backed up too far? Let’s say you go from “finish my sign up landing page” to simply “log into WordPress.” That’s when the junk work time wasters can get you. How many times have you logged into WordPress and found 50 other things you could do which either delayed or killed the goal you were after?
Don’t let that happen to you! Make sure each step follows logically and is tightly integrated with the goal you’re seeking to accomplish. That way, you won’t find yourself wondering why you’re still rearranging the widgets on your right sidebar 30 minutes later.
Keep That Paper Handy
Finally, make sure you keep your paper and pen handy throughout the day and keep asking yourself what you’re doing and why. I’ve done this and it blows me away sometimes how far off the path I can wander. But seeing it helps redirect me back to the main road towards my goal. Later, if you want to make one of those “side goals” a main goal and follow the same procedure, that’s fine. Just don’t be fooled by the multitasking myth or that ANY work is good work.
Do you find yourself miles off the main road while working on a goal? How do you keep it from happening? How do you get yourself back to the main task? Leave a comment below and tell me about it.