As the year comes to an end, you may find yourself reflecting on what you have achieved over the past several months. I know I started the year with the best intentions, pushed myself beyond my limits, and still feel as though I have not completed a lot of tasks on my list. But there is still some time left in the year, so let’s talk about how we can make it count.
Regardless of the role you play in your business, one of the keys to success is working smarter, not harder. Did you know that only 41 percent of items on to-do lists are ever actually done? This can potentially lead to stress and sleepless nights because of something called the Zeigarnik effect. The Zeigarnik effect is a phenomenon in which people remember incomplete or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks. Highly productive people avoid this by putting everything on their calendar and then working and living from that calendar.
For instance, Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller keeps a schedule that is almost minute by minute, saying “you must master your minutes to master your life.”
Beyond mastering your minutes, it is equally important to have a plan both professionally and personally in order to maximize your success. Here are my suggestions to help you make the last month of the year count toward achieving your goals:
1) Design your calendar
Know what you value in life and plan your day up to the minute. Organize and consolidate your work. For example, you can plan all your internal meetings on a Monday and keep all client appointments on a Tuesday. This approach is a powerful tool in best leading yourself. Self-leadership will always precede team leadership and planning looking forward, not out of the rearview mirror, leads to maximizing brain power and efficiency.
2) One task at a time
Start each day by focusing on the tasks you have that will make the greatest impact on your success. Learn to say no to anything that doesn’t serve your goals or your organization’s goals. Know your boundaries and how much work you can take on. More important projects and high-level goals should never suffer for lesser tasks.
3) Schedule time for emails
Do not constantly check emails. When you constantly check and respond to emails you are often allowing someone else’s fire drill to become your emergency. Have two to three times throughout the day you take a break and respond to emails. Don’t respond as they pop up.
4) Sleep and refuel
A car must be filled up with gas to run, right? Apply that same rule to yourself. Humans need sleep and nutrition to fully function. These two key ingredients play a critical role in thinking and learning and impact the quality of your work. Lack of sleep or proper nutrition impairs concentration, reasoning, problem solving and the ability to remember what you learn and experience.
Exercise can promote psychological well-being and improve quality of life. Improved mood and stress reduction are two benefits gained from daily exercise. Experiencing these benefits will likely motivate you to continue consistent and regular exercise.
6) Implement and repeat
Finally, to get results, you must implement the steps that will work best for you and have the discipline to live by your plan.
A lot can be done in one month toward achieving your remaining goals for 2016. The extra time spent to shift gears and implement the above steps is worth the investment in yourself and others around you. Here’s to a successful 2017!
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