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One Question That Will Help You Refocus and Achieve Greatness at Work

One Question That Will Help You Refocus and Achieve Greatness at Work

These days, people are working more, and feeling more stressed — yet still have significant financial concerns and feel behind. Research conducted by Groupon has talked about how people perceive their work-life balance.[1] Here are some of the findings:

  • 20% of the respondents said they worked 10 hours/day.
  • 60% of the respondents said there wasn’t enough time in the day to do everything.
  • 50% said workload was preventing them from work-life balance.
  • 53% said they still had significant financial concerns.
  • On a 1-10 scale, stress at home averaged a 5; at work, it averaged a 6.4.

That’s a lot of stress — but people still have financial concerns. What gives? How can we make this situation better?

Ask yourself a new question

    Chris Bailey, the author of The Productivity Project experimented with different techniques to help him organize and prioritize tasks. By modifying another productivity guru Brian Tracy’s approach, he arrived at this critical question:

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    “If you could just do one thing on a day, every day, what would you do that would allow you to accomplish the most with the same amount of time?”

    When you’ve got the answer for yourself, repeat the question but in a slightly different way: “If you could do only two more things all day, what second and third tasks let you accomplish the most in the same amount of time?”

    Not all tasks are created equal

      There are certain tasks in any job that, for every minute you spend on them, you can now accomplish more on other tasks.

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      Consider a project manager. They should be designing project workflow. Checking email is less important or almost a distraction. Customer service support, though? They should be checking email — and answering phones.

      Checking off many items on a list means nothing if nothing great was actually accomplished. This in some ways is the difference between “busy” and “productive.” When you’re spending time on things that matter, that is being productive. When you’re just checking off to-do list items, that oftentimes is just being “busy.” There’s no end game contribution.

      But when you spend more time and energy on items of significance, you accomplish more in the same amount of time — and by definition you are becoming more productive.

      Define your top priority task every day

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        By asking the critical question “If you could just do one thing on a day, every day, what would you do that would allow you to accomplish the most with the same amount of time?” you will be able to identify the most important task at the moment.

        Once the top priority task is defined, review your work progress every day by asking these Did I get done what I intended to? Did I invest enough time, attention, and energy in the right things?

        These questions will help you to evaluate your progress and it’s a self-check of whether you got distracted or remained focused on the most important things. This review also helps you to prepare a better plan for the next day.

        It all begins with defining priorities and what is truly important. Almost every day is going to have a personal or professional task that needs to come first above all. Isolate that task and work on what matters most. Achieve significant greatness even if you ignore 40 emails.

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        Most of life is about defining priorities

        Knowing your priority is the pathway to a more consistently successful version of self. Ask yourself the critical question to identify the one thing that matters most and design what you work on and focus towards around the answers. You are going to be more productive within days.

        Featured photo credit: Vecteezy via vecteezy.com

        Reference

        More by this author

        Leon Ho

        Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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        Last Updated on October 13, 2020

        A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success

        A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success

        If there was a rule book of life, there would be one particular page that was highlighted, underlined, and titled as most important. It would be the one which told you that you need to master effective goal setting and have an aim in mind before you get on with the process. Luckily, this goal setting guide is here to help.

        Yes, goal setting is important. In fact, it’s more important than achieving the goal itself. This is because it is the sense of direction that is needed for you to fulfill any task in life.

        You don’t have to feel overwhelmed if this sounds new to you because all the following information has you covered.

        Today you’ll find out all about the importance of goal setting, types of goals, and tips to define realistic goals for yourself!

        What Are Goals?

        To kick off our goal setting guide, you need to first recognize what goals are and how they are different from objectives, dreams, and expectations.

        A goal is basically your aim for the relatively long-term future. It is the bigger umbrella, the main focus.

        Objectives, on the other hand, fall under the umbrella of goals. They are the stepping stones that help you achieve your goals[1].

        Objects vs goals for goal setting

          Let’s say you want to learn a new foreign language. Your goal is to be fluent in the new language. Everything you do to achieve this goal, such as the daily tasks and learning aims, are the objectives.

          Similarly, your expectations, visions, and dreams are not your goals. If you wish to learn a new language someday, that is your dream. If you see yourself fluently speaking multiple foreign languages, that is your vision. If you think you’re capable of learning a new language, that is your expectation.

          However, if you aim to fulfill these visions, dreams, and expectations practically, that is your goal.

          Why Is Goal Setting Important?

          Why should you bother with goal setting at all? Wouldn’t it be more convenient to just get on with your daily objectives, follow a dream or vision, and let life take you wherever?

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          Well, if that’s what you want to do in your life, go ahead, but if you actually want to tick off things from your list of goals to achieve, goal setting is necessary.

          Being committed to a goal puts your brain to work in one specific direction. Believe it or not, by having a defined goal, your brain does its magic unconsciously, 24/7, with full efficiency, to achieve the desired results[2].

          Goal setting is important to shift your focus, boost your motivation, and give you a sense of direction. Without formally defining a particular aim that you want to reach, you won’t be able to keep your objectives in line.

          Hence, this one tiny step can end up saving you a lot of hassle and time while also encouraging your productivity in the right regard.

          Types of Goals

          Before we move onto the technique of setting effective goals, we need to first take a look at all types of goals in this goal setting guide.

          These categories will not just help you brainstorm new one for yourself, but it will also guide you to list them down in the right way.

          Time-Based

          One of the two broad categories of goals is based on time. These goals define how far in the future you want to achieve them.

          Daily

          There are certain smaller goals that you can easily achieve in a day or two. In fact, some of these daily goals can be recurring, too. For example, you may want to run for an hour every morning.

          Now, these daily goals can also serve as objectives for a long-term goal. You may be running every day because, in the long-term, you want to increase your stamina.

          Daily goals are highly effective for people who want to improve their mental wellbeing, time management skills, and stress management.

          Short-Term

          Next in line are short-term goals. As you would have already guessed, these are aimed for the near future.

          The great thing about these is that they are generally easier to achieve. This is because short-term goals are set for the foreseeable future. You are aware of the circumstances and have an idea of how much the situation can change. That is unless, of course, something extremely unpredictable happens, the chances of which are quite slim.

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          Just like daily goals, short-term goals may also serve as objectives for a long-term goal. Your short-term goal may be to lose 5 pounds in one month. That could be a goal in itself, or maybe it is just one objective to fulfill your goal to adopt a healthy lifestyle in the next two years.

          Another example of a short-term goal is to fulfill the checklist for promotion within the next 6 months. Or, you may want to reduce your screen time within the coming week.

          Long-Term

          Lastly, we have long-term goals that are meant to be completed over a stretched period.

          Whatever you want to achieve in a later stage of life is a long-term goal. An insurance plan, for example, is a long-term goal.

          Some long-term goals don’t have any time frame at all. They are goals that you want to accomplish at some point in your life. So, something like traveling the whole world is a lifelong goal with no specific time constraint at all.

          There’s one thing about long-term goals that isn’t great.

          They are the hardest to keep up with since you’re not seeing any huge achievements regularly. This may take a toll on your motivation. To tackle this problem, it is best to divide a long-term goal into various short-term and daily objectives so that you’re always tracking the progress you’re making.

          Life-Based

          Moving forward, you can also start goal setting based on the results you want to achieve instead of the time period.

          Career

          Like all humans, you will always want to succeed and excel in your career. No one wants to stay where they are forever.

          Anything that has to do with this intention, regardless of the time frame, is a career goal.

          You can learn more about how to set successful career goals here.

          Personal

          The past few years have all been about emphasizing your personal health. So, when it comes to goals, how can we forget the ones that have to do with our personal gains?

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          From health to finances to relationships, everything that brings you happiness and composure as a person is a personal goal.

          Whether you want to get rid of your debt, quit smoking, start a side hustle, get married, or have children, all these goals are personal and very important to have on your list.

          How to Set Goals

          The best way to guarantee the fulfillment of goals is to set them the right way.

          SMART Goals

          Every goal you define has to be smart[3]. No, we don’t mean the adjective. We’re referring to the acronym here.

          SMART stands for:

          • Specific
          • Measurable
          • Attainable
          • Relevant
          • Time-Bound

          In summary, your specific goals should be very well defined. They shouldn’t be generic or broad, and every detail should be clarified. 

          If you want to start running, how often do you want to do it? How long will each session be? For how long will you continue this habit?

          There has to be a connection between your goals and beliefs or you’ll never be able to achieve the results you want. Most importantly, do not be unrealistic. You cannot learn to fly, and forcing yourself to try is only going to demotivate and stress you out.

          Some Rules

          Whenever you’re working your way through this goal setting guide, keep a few things in mind.

          First and foremost, prioritize your goals. Things that you want to achieve the quickest should be worked on first.

          Don’t act in a way that is self-centered. There are people around you who will be affected by the things you do. Keep them in mind when defining goals.

          Lastly, do not let yourself forget the bigger picture. Whether it is the long-term result or the connection of the goal with your desire, keep it in mind to keep yourself from getting distracted.

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          I also recommend you to watch this video to learn 7 strategies to set goals effectively:

          How to Reach Your Goals

          You can ensure your progress by following some foolproof tactics. The use of relevant helpful tools can also keep you on the right track.

          Tactics

          One rookie mistake that most people make is that they work on too many goals simultaneously. Create an action plan and focus on one thing at a time.

          Divide your goal into smaller, easily achievable tasks. Taking it one step at a time makes it way easier. However, do not break them down too much. For example, for long-term goals, you should go for weekly checkpoints instead of daily ones.

          Also, keep track of your progress. This will keep you motivated to work harder.

          Tools

          With so many categories of goals and so many aims, it is almost impossible to remember, let alone work, on all of them.

          Luckily, numerous goal tracker apps will help you keep track of your goals, as well as your plan to achieve every single one. Have at least one installed in your smartphone so that your plan is always within reach.

          Bottom Line

          In conclusion, using a goal setting guide is not rocket science. All that it takes is strong will power along with all the knowledge that you’ve learned so far.

          Try out the tactics and tips mentioned above to be able to set successful goals so that you can achieve the life that you want!

          More Tips on Achieving Success

          Featured photo credit: Danielle MacInnes via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Smart Insights: The difference between marketing objectives and marketing goals?
          [2] Confluence: Goal Setting Theory
          [3] University of California: SMART Goals: A How-To Guide

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