It can be difficult to prioritize –
especially when everything is highest priority and most important.
But the truth is, when everything is the highest priority or the most important thing you have to do, then nothing is. That doesn’t mean you don’t have important things to do. It only means that your time and priorities are not being managed correctly. The result will be floundering around, trying to figure out what to do, and generally being stuck in fire-fighting mode where the only thing you can focus on is the thing that is currently on fire.
This isn’t a good place to be.
Learning To Say No… Again
I’ve dealt with this issue in the past, and it seems to be coming up again in my life. I’ve had to say no to more and more things recently, because I seem to have been stuck in fire-fighting mode for far too long. So I unloaded a few of the “important” things and sat down to try and organize my time and priorities.
Starting With My “Every Week” Things
Organizing my time was easy at first. I have a list of things that always happen every week:
- Client work (for my 1 client)
- This weekly email
- WatchMeCode episode release
- family things, etc
These are things that always happen in my week – they are clearly the highest priorities for me.
But after that, I was getting stuck in the cycle of trying to figure out what to do next and not being able to focus or set priorities. Should I work on more screencasts? Should I work on SignalLeaf? Should I do marketing for either of those? Do I need to blog more on DerickBailey.com? Or on SignalLeaf? What about … the list was getting overwhelming, and I wasn’t getting anything done.
Focus: 1 Week At A Time
For a while, all of my projects suffered. I was jumping back and forth between too many things in a given week or given day. Doing this was causing everything to fall further and further behind because I couldn’t focus. Then Josh and John, from my entrepreneur group, suggested I try to focus 1 week at a time.
Once I had my “every week” items scheduled I needed to pick one project to work on each week. At the beginning of a week, I plan out what I am going to do for the week on that one project. Other projects and responsibilities get pushed to the side during that week, so that I can focus and stay focused.
For example, one week I’ll work on SignalLeaf. The next week, I’ll work on WatchMeCode. After that, back to SignalLeaf or maybe some other thing that came up recently. Somewhere in the mix, I’ll decide that I need to move DerickBailey.com forward, and I’ll plan a week of working on that.
Setting these week long sprints of work on a given project is helping me move every project forward, instead of wondering when any given project will be moved.
How It Has Helped So Far
I’ve only been doing this for 2 weeks now, as I’m writing this to you. But so far it has helped me a lot. My 2 weeks of focus have allowed me to make very large leaps and bounds forward on all fronts of that week’s project. I’m no longer trying to decide between projects – I have an entire week in which I will work on one of them.
Being able to focus like this has helped out every project I have, already – even if I’ve only planned to work on a project and haven’t actually done the work yet. At least now, I have a plan for it instead of just worrying about when I’ll get to it.
The Future Of Focus
This week I’m focusing on WatchMeCode, and next week will be focused on a presentation for a conference. After that, I’ll get back to SignalLeaf…. after that… well, I’m not planning that far ahead, yet. And I’m ok with that. The further out I go, the less specific my plans need to be. I can have a general idea of where I’m heading more than a month from now, but I only need to know what my next 2 or 3 weeks look like.
That doesn’t mean I won’t at least think that far ahead. It only means that I don’t have to write it down or commit to it yet. I’m sure there will be times when I do have a specific deadline for something (like a conference) and I’ll need to plan that far ahead. But for now, I’m going to run with only 1 or 2 weeks planned and see how it goes.
Still An Experiment. Looking To Improve.
I may have only been doing this for 2 weeks so far, but right now I’m feeling like this is going to be the way that helps me move forward with all of my projects (in addition to reducing the number of projects I have, that is).
But even with this tool in place, I know I can still do better. What tools and techniques do you have in place to help manage your time and focus? I’d love to hear about how you handle things. Leave a comment below, and let me know!