People are remarkably bad at remembering long lists of goals. I learned this at a professional level when trying to get my high-performance coaching clients to stay on track; the longer their lists of to-dos and goals, the more overwhelmed and off-track they got. Clarity comes with simplicity.
It’s really easy to get overwhelmed with your to-do list, especially when you have a job, team, clients, projects, and family to manage. One of the biggest barriers to lasting change I hear is, “But I don’t have time to add that new goal/task/project to my plate, because I’m already too busy.”
My clients are working on adding purpose and new adventures to their life and finally get to a point where they can articulate their dreams and then tell me, “I don’t have time to make it happen.” Come on now.
We’ve got to give up something in order to see better results. Many folks get bogged down in the details of tasks and then find that they’ve lost track of their bigger picture goals. Instead of managing your checklist, I’d like to suggest you manage a small number of goals. According to Franklin Covey’s research, you can only really focus on 3 at a time. Keep the goals posted near you, not your checklist.
Here’s a simple way to accomplish what you need to this quarter:
- Write down three goals. (Yes, only 3.)
- Write down the 3 tasks that must happen next for each goal.
- Go do them.
- Re-visit your goals to see if you’re on track or they need adjusted.
- Write down the next 3 tasks.
- Go do them.
- Rinse. Repeat.
If you find that you feel overwhelmed by everything that must be done, just do the next best thing. Don’t try to do it all. In fact, try to do less. Simplification and focus are your friends when it comes to getting what you want or accomplishing that big project.
Keep 80 to 90% of your tasks related to your goals and curate your to-do list so those tasks are integrated into your work in a way that makes sense. In fact, when I have to write down all of my tasks and can’t simply remember them, that is my cue that I’ve spread myself too thin and am beginning to lose focus.
Now go to it!