“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” – Zig Ziglar
Are you running your day or is your day running you?
We are getting crushed by the constant barrage of interruptions and focus grabbers. Emails, phone calls, pointless meetings, internet rabbit trails, social media addiction – the examples are endless. The bottom line is that we’re getting thrown off our game on a daily basis. Ask yourself – are you truly effective or are you simply active?
Times have changed. Smart phones are attached to us 24 hrs a day because we’re afraid we’re going to miss out on something. We’re checking email all the time (28% of our day says McKinsey). 28% is one thing but think about all of the other times you check in and the 10 minutes it takes you to get back on track. We lose focus very easily. Our brains aren’t wired to multi-task. One interruption can take us totally off track.
So, what can you do about it?
It all comes down to planning, focus and purpose. Plan your work; work your plan. If you want to find your way through a forest the best way to get to your destination is to have a map or a compass, isn’t it? So, why do we so often fail to do this when it comes to personal productivity and effectiveness?
I’ve spent the last 15 yrs studying this exact topic. It’s been an evolving journey and I’ve tinkered with everything from Getting Things Done to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In fact, a couple of years ago I hired one of David Allen’s key trainers to personally work with me. It wasn’t cheap but as with most things that aren’t cheap, the value was off the charts. There have been many other coaches/trainers/workshops throughout the years that I’ve worked with and attended. All have had a significant influence on me.
Throughout all of this knowledge acquisition and essentially being my own lab, I’ve come to the realization that we have to think like an athlete when we work. We need to engage in periods of intense effort followed by periods of renewal. Our bodies and minds are meant to work in cycles of activity and recovery. Think about working out – you do an exercise for a set amount of time until you’ve exhausted your effort, then you rest and repeat. Why not work like that?
I also know that it can be overwhelming to think about all the things on your “list”. Now, I’m a proponent of lists but you have to be careful about the addiction to creating and managing them and NOT doing the work! I see it all the time. Frankly, I fall victim to that as well at times. But, what if you can keep your list of things you want to do at a later date and also have a focused list that you can do today?
If you think about a football coach or a quarterback, they all typically have a game plan – a purpose to their desired outcome (to win). It’s usually a one page sheet of their plays and keeps them laser focused at the task at hand. A quarterback has a list of plays on their wristband. Think about how focused they are. One list, one page – 60 plus minutes of intense effort. They all have notebooks back in the office that they can refer to and are part of their planning for the week. When it’s gameday, however, they typically have one go to document.
I wanted to create something similar. A one pager that enables you to focus on what’s most important – to focus on the true needle moving activities.
That being said, I’m really excited to introduce The Catalyst Day worksheet. Big kudos to my friend Mike Wedick at Blakkbox for collaborating on the design of this and to Scott Dinsmore (from Live Your Legend) for hooking us up. In this document you’ll also find a key that you can print out that will give you some direction on how to best utilize. This is also an editable PDF version so you don’t have to print and hand-write if that’s not your thing. And, yes, my plan is to develop an app around this as well – lots of folks who’ve been testing this have asked : )
Here are the components:
- Top 3 Projects – I realize you may have more than three key projects you’re working on, but you have to make a choice for the day. Pick your top three and set the plan for each. There’s more detail/ideas in the document key on how to set this up but I urge you to make this your own style as well. Do what feels right for you.
- Fuel – Athletes track what they eat and drink. In here, you’ll see an area to track what you eat and how much water you consume.
- Focus and Energy – It’s imperative to know the rhythms of your day. You need to know when you’re most effective and at what times. This typically coincides with when your Focus and Energy are highest. For me, it’s typically the morning and I imagine it’s the same for most of you. So, why not focus your key efforts at that time. I like to call it “The First 90”, meaning the first 90 minutes of the day are the most crucial. The first 90 sets the tone for the rest of the day. When you learn to focus and execute on that time, you will start to see lights out results.
- Exercise – Today, more than ever, exercise needs to be a focus for all of us. If you “break a sweat” at least 5-6 days a week, I can’t tell you how much that will set the tone for your productivity and effectiveness. I don’t care if it’s 5 minutes a day. It’s all about mindset. Start small, but make breaking a sweat part of your day.
- Habits – There are cornerstone habits that you’re probably trying to instill. There’s a place to track these (or it may be one). For me, it’s a daily breathing exercise that goes here along with a devotional I do daily. Both help set the tone for the day. If it’s not in front of me, I’m probably not doing it. This document helps keep them in front of me.
You can download both the full background and instructions as well as a one page editable document here:
Full background and instructions here – The Catalyst Day – Full Instructions
The editable PDF document (the one-pager) here – The Catalyst Day One Pager
I’d love for you to give it a try and let me know your thoughts. You can post a comment here or feel free to reach out directly via Facebook
P.S. I’ll be hosting a free webinar soon on maximizing your effectiveness and talking through The Catalyst Day and how to implement. Stay tuned for more details.