I love to write. I have the best intentions to write. But many days there is a long list of reasons, call them excuses, why I don't write. So, in January this year, I committed to myself to publish a short article like this one on my website every Tuesday morning at 8am EDT. No excuses. Every Tuesday.
After successfully publishing an article for 25 Tuesday's in a row, one thing had become abundantly clear, time is flying by, and without this small commitment, I would hardly even be aware of it. But with this commitment, I wake up every day with one thought - TUESDAY'S COMING!!!
Making Excuses or Making a Way
Without a goal or a milestone to mark the time, we hardly even notice the time passing. I recently heard several people from different areas of my life comment that they couldn't believe it was Memorial Day already. I even hear people on our monthly coaching calls say, "I can't believe it's been a month already since our last call!!" I always retort, yes, and what do you have to show for it? What have you done since our last call?
The truth is that time is passing quickly and without a plan for how you are investing your time you could easily end up with nothing meaningful to show for it.
Three Steps to Making Time Work for You
When I became aware of how fast Tuesdays were showing up I became very intentional about priorities and the time I allocated to working those priorities. Here is my simple 3-step approach:
1. Set a goal to set small goals
If you want to make sure you are working on the right things, the important things, the true priorities in your life, then you need to set a goal that you will strive for. Like my, "publish an article every Tuesday at 8am" goal to motivate my writing. I highly recommend a small goal, that you can work on daily or weekly. I could have said write and publish a book, but that is so large that I could easily develop excuses to keep me from starting. Small goals done daily equal big results.
2. Determine "This Week's Three"
I personally think that many of us, especially leaders trying to move a team or an organization forward, try and do too much. I can become distracted from what's important by the sheer amount of things I am trying to accomplish. This step helps me to WRITE DOWN what are the three things I plan to work on or accomplish this week. I do this on Sunday evening, but you could do it on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning just as easily. The magic happens when you keep this appointment with yourself and put a few minutes of focused thought on what are the 3 most important things you could be doing in the coming 7 days that lead to the goal(s) you set in step 1.
3. Be accountable for executing
It's one thing to SAY you will do something, it's quite another to tell someone else that you'll do something and have them check with you later to see if you did. For me, it was a personal commitment to Tuesday. For others, it may be agreeing with your team at work or your family at home what you will do during the coming week. I also use my Sunday night planning time to evaluate how I did the previous week.
I heard John Maxwell tell a story about a guy who calculated that if he lived to be 75 years old, then that would mean he would have 3900 Saturdays in his life (75 x 52 weeks/yr). He also calculated that since he was 55-years-old when he did this math that he had already used up 2860 of his Saturdays. This left him with 1040 Saturdays to go. So, the man bought a jar and placed 1040 marbles in the jar. Then, every Saturday he would remove one marble and throw it away.
A graphic reminder of how fast time is moving and how important it is for us to be focused on our most important tasks and to avoid all the distractions and excuses that keep us from our best work.
Tuesday's coming, what will you have to show for it?