How effective is your time management, especially when it comes to big, difficult, daunting goals?
One step at a time – we know that’s the way to get something big done. But is that all there is to it?
For something practical, I can do that – and do it well.
On a more nebulous business project, it can be harder.
Like you, I imagine, lately I’ve been working on some different things because my usual routine isn’t possible. And I’ve been getting quite a bit done. The garden is in the best nick it’s been in for 30 years at least. Seriously!
Working on a big outdoor project, I ponder how to bring the substantial mental stamina and patience I routinely and successfully apply to large practical tasks (that would daunt many, quite honestly) to less tangible business ones that are similarly scaled in terms of hours of effort, but I find more difficult to make progress on.
It has frustrated me, actually… How come I can grind out big practical jobs, but climbing the proverbial mountain on a discretionary business task, like creating and marketing a new information product, is a lot harder?
Here’s my take…
With the practical task, there is a vision of the end-result, a rough but not slavish plan, in which we can switch to another aspect when we get bored with the bit we are working on, and – crucially – an ability not to be intimidated by the scale of the undertaking and just do the next piece – or any piece – often thinking “that’s one less thing to do tomorrow” or “that’s one step nearer finished”.
The practical tasks have real and self-evident completion criteria. We know what finished looks like, and so do other people around us. The task – though big – does not go on forever. There is a vision of the end-result.
Here’s my conclusion…
For the discretionary business development task, we absolutely must set a scaled, measurable, finite outcome. The fact that the possibilities are unbounded especially requires setting a specific destination – what some call a “proximate objective”. This is vital. We must choose a definite finish line, particularly because the task doesn’t have one in and of itself.
Another success factor in the practical task is having no doubt about ultimately succeeding, even if there may be challenges. Unlike in a business task, we’re not judged by the inanimate practical substance. The working material doesn’t have an opinion. In business, we’re dealing with people and they, of course, do have opinions, so we need to be resilient in the face of that. They can have their opinion and we can have ours. We must find our strength and belief inside.
So we need to be fearless in the business development task. And do something on it pretty much every day.
How effective is your time management, in general? I’ve put together a 10-point self-assessment checklist you can access here to test yourself. You might be missing one of its key insights that would make achieving big, difficult, daunting goals much easier.