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Achieve Your Goals by Focusing on Critical Activities

Achieve Your Goals by Focusing on Critical Activities

    What are your critical activities? Critical activities are those activities that directly move you towards your goals.  Every goal has critical activities.  The problem is that most of us spend significant amounts of time doing things that are not critical.  Often we convince ourselves that they are something we ‘need’ to do to be successful, but usually they are things that are not critical.

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    Step #1 – Identify your goals

    You can’t know what the critical activities are if you don’t first have a clear understanding of what your goals are.  You need to understand where you are going before you can know how to get there. Go beyond just labeling something as your goal, get a grip on WHY you want to achieve your goal.  Before you plan how to get to your vacation destination you first need to know where you are going and what you want to do when you get there.  Your destination is your goal, and what you want to do when you get there is your WHY.

    Step #2 – List major outcomes needed to achieve your goal

    For each goal make a list of the outcomes that you need to complete in order reach that goal. These outcomes should be the major results that lead to achieving your goals.  You may view these as the steps along the way, or the main accomplishments needed to move you forward.  If your goal is to increase your coaching business your major outcomes will be finding new clients and keeping your existing clients.  These would be the two major outcomes that if you continue to do will certainly help you achieve your over arching goal.

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    Step #3 – Determine the activities needed

    In this step you need to take your outcomes from step #2 and break them down into all of the activities that are needed to get you to those outcomes.  There are likely several activities needed for each outcome. These can be broken down into small bite sized action chunks.  Continuing with the goal of expanding your coaching business, you would list all the activities for each of the two major outcomes.  For example for finding new clients you would have things such as building your prospect list, networking, phoning potential prospects, increasing your web presence, offering seminars or podcasts etc…  Think through all the things you do to move you towards each major outcome.

    Step #4 – Limit the list to the critical activities

    Once you have your list of activities you need to reduce the list to only those activities that are absolutely critical for achieving your goals.  These are the things that must be done.  To find out if one of the activities you have recorded is critical or not, ask yourself what would happen if you stopped doing it. If you quit doing one of the critical activities you will quit moving towards your goals.  If you quit something that is not critical you may miss it but it won’t prevent you from reaching your goals.  Often the critical activities are not the easy activities.  They require stepping out of your comfort zone.  For each goal you should aim to have between 4 and 8 critical activities.

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    Step #5 – Take action on the critical.

    After you have identified the critical activities you need to take action on those activities.  Reduce the time and focus you give to the non-critical activities. By now you have likely realized that some things you spend time on are not critical.  Non critical activities for me include cleaning my office, surfing the web endlessly, communicating with friends on Facebook etc..  Certainly there are times where these activities are appropriate and even needed, however that is not when I am working towards my goals.  When you have set aside time to focus on your business or other goals only do critical activities.   To do this you may need to block out distractions.  This might mean closing your email boxes, shutting of your twitter tweets, and perhaps even turning off the ringer on your phone.  Get rid of the non-critical things that might distract you from the critical.

    Step #6 – Do this for each goal

    Likely you will have more than one goal in your life.  You may have business goals, work goals, family goals, fitness goals etc.  For each goal area you can work through this process. If your goal is to lose you may identify the major outcomes of eating better and exercising more.  From there your critical activities might be: 1. exercise daily  2. cook better meals 3. measure our your servings 4. record everything you eat.   Every area of your life has critical activities and time wasters.

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    By taking the time to work through these steps you can focus on the critical and avoid the time wasters.  You will make more progress towards your goals more quickly.

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

    How about a unique spin on things?

    These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

    1. Empty your mind.

    It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

    Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

    Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

    Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

    How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

    2. Keep certain days clear.

    Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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    This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

    3. Prioritize your work.

    Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

    Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

    Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

    How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    4. Chop up your time.

    Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

    5. Have a thinking position.

    Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

    What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

    6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

    To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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    Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

    7. Don’t try to do too much.

    OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

    8. Have a daily action plan.

    Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

    Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

    9. Do your most dreaded project first.

    Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

    10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

    The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

    11. Have a place devoted to work.

    If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

    But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

    Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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    Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

    12. Find your golden hour.

    You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

    Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

    Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

    Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

    13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

    It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

    By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

    Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

    14. Never stop.

    Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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    Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

    There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

    15. Be in tune with your body.

    Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

    16. Try different methods.

    Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

    It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

    Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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