By Marc Beauchamp
In my Aug. 10, 2020 article, issue 20:08:01, I discussed the importance of having targeted outcomes. Having one-year, three-year and even 10-year goals provides wonderful visions for you to create from, but where the real game is played and won is in 90-day (12 week) increments.
I encourage you to dispense with annualized thinking and think in 90-day blocks of time. The human brain is limited in its capacity to focus for extended periods. Ninety days is the perfect time frame for keeping your brain engaged, motivated and focused on your desired outcomes. Each segment builds upon the next to help you drive toward the one-year target, which builds to the longer-term vision.
As you continue to chunk it down, break your activities into monthly, weekly and daily segments. This allows you to apply the principles of small, incremental actions (hitting singles) and the aggregation of marginal gains.
I'm sure you've heard of the Chinese Proverb that states, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step." If you believe this to be true, then the wrong first step could begin a journey that could take you very far off course. So it's important to make sure you take the appropriate first step and start your journey headed in the right direction.
In the book The One Thing, authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan share what they call a focusing question to help you do just that: begin the journey headed in the right direction. The question they ask is, "What's the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"
When planning, ask yourself this focusing question and build your strategy and actions around the answer. One integral tool to use to complete your "One Thing" is time blocking. Time blocking is the practice of setting aside specific scheduled time each week to work on your priority outcomes.
For most people, that is at the beginning of the workday when your brain has the most mental energy and focus. Remember: No email. No phone calls. No interruptions of any kind. Just focus on the task at hand.
Cal Newport put it this way in his book Deep Work: Deep work happens when you get to have a period of uninterrupted time to focus on a single task or activity. Successful intellectuals do their best work when they go into isolation and get into deep work mode. (See Figure 1)
Brian Tracy eloquently summed up this concept in his book Eat that Frog!: "Throughout my career, I have found a simple truth," he wrote. "The ability to concentrate single-mindedly on your most important task, to do it well and to finish it completely, is the key to great success, achievement, respect, status, and happiness in life."
Define your outcomes, play your game in 90-day time frames, time block weekly, and you will be all but guaranteed success. Just imagine what your life and results would look like if you built this into your routine as a non-negotiable habit.
Marc Beauchamp is author of Survive and Thrive in the Merchant Services Industry and founder of Bankcard Life, a community for payments professionals. He is offering a free copy of his book to all payments professionals at www.bankcardlife.com/greensheet. Marc welcomes your comments and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.
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