4 Steps to Focus My Life Now

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November 15, 2014 in Peak Performance
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I write this post as I’m on my way to Maine from Syracuse. Yes that’s right I’m writing this while driving in the car – the wonders of talk to text!

I was inspired to write this blog post while listening to episodes of Michael Hyatt’s “This is your Life” Podcast. One of his episodes talked about finding time for the things you’re good at and delegating the things that you’re not so great at. So it got me thinking, why am I really a business, and how can I focus my life to make it worth while?

Why do I work so hard? Why do I work 12 hour days or work through the weekend? What’s this whole entrepreneurship thing about? If I did delegate more of the tasks that I’m not so great at, I would have more free time? But what would I do with that time?

Answer: go to Maine.

Portland_Head_Lighthouse,_Maine

My time with friends, family and doing the things that get me excited about life are the whole reason I am in business. If we as entrepreneurs don’t keep this top of mind, there’s absolutely no point to being on this amazing, yet crazy journey.

Seriously, if you love to work just because you love to work, without any real goals to improve your personal life – be rest assured that will lead to an early grave. I strongly suggest you find a hobby or a passion outside of work to balance your mind and soul.

If you love to work, so that you can love life – you have a good chance of finding balanced happiness.

So back to Michael Hyatt’s podcast. He talks about how stressful being an entrepreneur can be, and the fact that pretty much all of us have the “bright shiny object syndrome”. This means that we love it seizing opportunities, and get all giddy when a bright, shiny opportunity presents itself. But if we were able to take a Birdseye view of our life, that shiny opportunity might just be a waste of our time in the long run. It might deter us from where we really want our life to be.

Learning to say “no” to ourselves and others can be the greatest strength we obtain.

Now, many of us entrepreneurs are still growing our business, so we can’t easily identify what what we need to focus on, and what we should let go. It will take some trial and error, because there is no easy or quick way to success. We need to buck up and get shit done, fight through the mistakes and roadblocks, and live to crush another day.

However in saying that, I suggest you take a stroll through the following list, and see if you can apply some of these tips to your work/life balance to avoid some of the pitfalls that are waiting in the entrepreneurial shadows.

#1) Make a list

Begin by making a list of everything that you want to do.

I make lists on good old fashioned paper every night before bed for what I want to accomplish the following day, then I review and add to that list every morning.

It will ensure that you don’t let important tasks slip through your fingers. It will also keep you accountable and focused.

focus my lifeSide Note: If you’re like me, your list gets pretty long and overwhelming, so I have recently started experimenting with the Warren Buffett task management method, conveyed to me by James Clear. This includes writing out my top 25 goals or tasks. Then I highlight the 5 most important ones. After I have completed this I avoid the remaining 20 at all costs, until I complete the first 5.

Once you’ve made your list of things that you feel are important to you and your business, you can add things that you’re especially good at, but maybe are not your favorite things.

This will build a comprehensive list of the things that need to get done.

Once you get in the habit of doing this you will start to notice your time is broken up into broad categories or “chunks” as I call them. These chunks will be your guiding light to keep you on track and focused on the tasks you should be doing, versus the ones you should be delegating.

For example, I’m great at building a culture, business development, marketing strategy, and talking on camera. It just so happens that I love to do all those things as well.

But I also love the overall business strategy – I want to look at growth factors and how we can improve our current business practices.

In addition, I’ve got a bit of a creative mind. So I am also the creative director for my digital marketing company. I have other people that work on the projects and come up with ideas, but I look at the big picture on how to add individual product’s to the entire campaign.

These are all very different jobs, and even though my business is small, I have written out a plan to hire a creative director to allow me to focus on building the Good Monster brand.

Once this is done (maybe by the time this post goes live), my list will look like this:

  • Business Development: Prospect meetings, pitches
  • Marketing: brand growth, The Monster Show episodes, social media content strategy
  • Public Appearances: Events, public speaking
  • Business Operations: Strategy, building a culture

Okay now it’s your turn, go make your list!

#2) Break into percentages

Once you develop your list, the next step is to schedule what percentage of your resources you will dedicate to each task or “thing”.

For example, I dedicate about 30% of my time to general business development or light sales. I consider this meetings with clients or prospects, looking at current campaigns and suggesting improvements to clients, going to networking events and public speaking.

I spend about 10% of my time doing hard sales. I consider this calling on businesses, pitching to prospective clients, and actively asking for referrals – going in for “the kill”.

I spend about 20% of my time developing my companies marketing plan. This includes filming online videos, managing our social media strategy, implementing email marketing, and optimizing our user experiences and branding.

I spend another 20% on business strategy. I consider this working on things like financial review, future planning, growth strategies, and company efficiency. And another 10% is spent on creative direction. Being as I have a growing team underneath me, this is more of an advisory role.

Then I have a 10% “fire bank”,  incase shit hits the fan and I have to drop everything and go.

Or I feel like golfing.

These percentages will change throughout your journey but this will help to keep your eye on the prize!

#3) Block out your schedule

focus my lifeOnce you have an idea of percentages, it’s time to block out actual calendar time so that you can stick to it.

What I do is use Google calendar and schedule chunks of time that I’ll dedicate to each general task. For instance, I’ll take about 30 hours and break that up into percentages and scatter them throughout the week. Then I’ll mark them as recurring so that I don’t have to worry about scheduling every week.

Then I’ll go back through and enter the details of what specific tasks I will do underneath that category.

Now my time management skills are not quite good enough to stick to this 100%, but I try to do a pretty darn good job. If something gets in the way of me working within this category then I move that block to another area to make up for it.

The key is to never completely delete the block off the calendar unless you absolutely have to.

#4) Grade yourself

One of the best ways to keep yourself accountable to a goal is to grade yourself.

You can get as strict as you want on this one, but I like to keep myself in check whenever possible. Especially, because my brain is like the final match of the World Championship of Ping Pong.

I always try to move move the category if I get too busy to work on it or have to reschedule. So all my blocks are still there. But on the off chance I can’t reschedule it, I’ll delete it so it’s gone.

So what I do is at the end of every month, I’ll go back for my calendar and tally up the percentages of tasks and if it correlates with what I had planned. If I’m in the ballpark I give myself a pat on the back. If let’s say I’m off by like 20% in business development, because I spent way too much time on marketing, I’ll write down a quick plan to make sure that doesn’t happen the following month.

A written reminder works great; something like taping a note on my computer that says:

Remember, if you don’t keep building a positive culture, your employees may become unhappy. And unhappy employees mean unhappy clients.

This way you are reminded why you started focusing on this category in the first place.

Conclusion

These are just some of the methods that I used to keep myself on track. I suggest you find out what works for you and make sure that you’re spending your time wisely. Because if you do, you’ll have the opportunity to drive to Maine on a beautiful 80° weekend in late September.

Cheers to earning your time off!

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John Timmerman
About the author

John Timmerman

John Timmerman is the founder of Good Monster, a digital agency in Syracuse, NY. He is a former strength & conditioning coach and personal trainer who has trained NFL, MLB, NHL, PGA, UFC athletes, executives and everyone else for 10 years. When he's not burning the house down trying to cook up healthy ways to eat bacon, he's traveling and enjoying life to the fullest!