You put a goal out there but don’t put any time on it. Two weeks go by. A month goes by. It hangs around your to-do list like an unwanted guest.
As super busy entrepreneurs, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. And most of us have little to no accountability to others unless we’re a part of something great like a mastermind group. If you’re like me, you’re always looking for new tools to make you more efficient.
Here’s a simple strategy I’ve been using for years to ease overwhelm, increase accountability, and get stuff done – without the need of a mastermind group or personal coach. It’s called “The Big Three.”
Focus on What’s Important – TODAY
Emails. Client calls. Unexpected problems. With so many things to do (I often have lists of 20-50 items), it’s easy to get to the end of a day and think, “What did I do today?”To create a better answer to that question, do this:
Every day, take a Post-It note and write down three things you’re going to accomplish THAT day – no matter what! Then put it somewhere you can see it. I keep mine on the right side of my computer screen.
Why a Post-It note? Because it needs to be something physical, something separate from your bigger list in Basecamp or Trello. Use brightly colored ones to help it stand out and stand alone.
Why a separate note in a visible space? Because this kind of separation helps you focus on manageable tasks.
Choosing Your Big Three
The Big Three help me stay focused on what’s immediate that day. If I have a 30-minute break, I can glance at my Big Three and ask, “What’s next? What will I do?” Even if I’m way-layed by a project, or something exciting comes along, I know that at the end of that day, at least I got these three things done.
The items you put on your Big Three list don’t have to be “big” in and of themselves. They just need to be “big” to you, according to your priorities.
Despite a bigger list lurking in the background, my Big Three give me a huge sense of accomplishment. It proves to me that I’m taking a step forward every day. Continuous motion breeds more continuous motion.
Deciding What’s What
I like to use this strategy for the things I’ve put off – for whatever subconscious reason. It works well for time sensitive items like deadlines, things that need to be pulled to attention and gotten done.
Here’s an example: I need to renew an ad on Facebook. It was supposed to be done last week. It was on my regular (bigger) list of to-dos, but I never got to it. So it goes on today’s Big Three because I’m making a priority to get it done TODAY.
Also, everything on your list should be something you can do without any collaboration. They should be highly tangible goals you can do on your own within one day. They should never be as big as “launch the website” or “sign new client.” These require too many people.
Something like, “email prospective client to setup next meeting” would be good, but “confirm meeting” wouldn’t; the second one is too simple.
I try not to put big, personal items on my Big Three, but if it’s something that affects the way I’m working, then I’ll make an exception. My daughter is taking a trip abroad and her passport will affect other parts of my life, so I must make it a priority. It goes on my list.
Sometimes, I use the Big Three to help me focus ON my business. “Spend 30 minutes thinking about new strategy or spend 30 minutes reading this business book” are good uses of my time and move my business forward. Normally, these types of items might be pushed aside. Putting them on my Big Three ensures they won’t be.
Make It Sacred
I often feel unaccomplished at the end of some days because I’m pulled in many directions. I’m distracted by shiny objects as much as anyone else.
When I put an item on my Big Three, it becomes sacred, it becomes an agreement with myself. It’s how I do my company justice. It’s how I prove to myself and others that I’m serious about my work.
This system has become a very tangible and sacred ritual in my business. It is a way to take care of myself.
I love looking in my recycle bin at the end of the week and seeing those crumpled notes, knowing I completed fifteen important tasks that have moved my business forward.
I could create a massive list every day – I did that for a long time – but I want to feel good about climbing the mountain of work in front of me. Because I know that when I feel good about what I’m doing, I do better work. I want that goodness to come through in every meeting and human interaction I have. The Big Three make that goodness possible – every day.
What about you? Leave a comment to let me know which small rituals you’ve created in your business.