This is a Guest Post by Ian McConnell.
I’ve just had one of those days where everything just fell into place. I was completely in the zone. Task after task got completed effortlessly. Stuff was just falling into place, things were going right and everything just got done. I even completed 4 extra tasks that I hadn’t planned to do today. It’s a great feeling, but I have come to realize that some people struggle to find this zone and don’t enjoy as many of these highly productive days as they should.
It seems that it is more common to have days where small things go wrong and disrupt the day. The computer decides to do an update when it starts up, the browser is slow and unresponsive, the password program can’t find the password that was saved yesterday, etc. Most of these small problems are unavoidable 100% of the time. But, if you are trying to manage your time and tick off the items on a lengthy to-do list, these small problems will undoubtedly add frustration and stress to the mix.
So, how do you get in the zone more often?
I’ll tell you how I did it.
1) I threw out my to-do list.
2) I deleted my time management system which was my Google calendar
Yes, I deleted every repeating task in my Google calendar. These were repeating tasks like write an article on Monday at 9am to be finished and submitted to the article directories by 10.30am. Monday 10.45am to 12noon scan the warrior forum for people I could help out. 1pm to 4pm create new Insiders Club content and so on. I had booked up nearly every minute of my 8 hour working day, with a task for the rest of my life. That was thanks to the power of repeating tasks that never end in digital calendars. It felt good when I initially set up all these weekly tasks. I felt organized. But, after a few weeks of trying to stick to my time management plan, I knew it wasn’t going to work.
Are you sometimes in the right mindset when doing your tasks?
9am Monday would come around and my calendar said I should be writing an article. But, I just wasn’t in the right mindset or zone to write an article. I would force the issue, thinking I needed to be disciplined and get this article done. The article would then take 2 hours (or more) to write and I had scheduled an hour to write it and half an hour to submit it. I then had to adjust my schedule for the rest of the day and usually something didn’t get done at the end of the day, or it got rolled over to the next day. This then compounded the problem the next day.
Not all daily tasks could be accomplished as written on your to-do list.
However, I did notice that on some days at different times I was finding the article writing zone. It just seemed to flow and the article writing was so much easier. But, those times tended to vary. By moving that task to a different day or time slot would work one week but not the next. It seemed like just knowing that task had to be completed put me in the wrong mindset.
I needed a system that was much more flexible and took into account what I actually felt like doing. A system where I worked in the zone 80% of the time instead of 20% of the time. You may be thinking that’s just a lack of discipline. I should have got a timer out and forced myself to get the article done… I tried and it didn’t work. I would get the article done but days later would go and adjust it because the quality just wasn’t good enough.
I tried outsourcing the articles but ended up rewriting them because this material had to be in my voice. Outsourcing articles works great for my niche sites, but not for my personal blog. I had to do the writing so people experienced the real me. Then one day I heard Tony Robbins talk about chunking. Chunking is where you group tasks together which when completed will produce a specific result.
Get rid of to-do lists and go to chunk……
An example of a weekly chunk with a specific result is “Build a list of 1,000 subscribers”. There are no to-do lists or scheduled tasks. Just the chunk, that needs to be completed by the end of the week. I tried it and it worked very well for me.
Here is how I apply it:
I review my monthly goals on a Saturday afternoon and then I create 3 chunks. Saturday afternoon suits me because I’ve had a morning away from the business and I’m usually more relaxed. I create 3 result based chunks which must be completed by the end of the next week. I write these chunks on a post it note and attach it to my computer monitor. It’s a quick and easy system, but as I relax on Sunday it’s amazing how some great ideas pop into my head. On Monday morning I always start the day off, like most week days, with a 40 to 60 minute walk. On the walk is when I contemplate which chunk I’ll start with and what tasks I’ll complete that day.
After a shower and breakfast I’m ready to get to work. My mindset is in the right place, my body is energized and I usually start with the easy tasks, or the ones I know I can knock over quickly, because that builds momentum for the tasks that are not so exciting. I found that by removing the long to-do lists and strict time management it eliminated the overwhelm and has allowed me to be flexible with my days. I also don’t check emails until I have completed what I wanted to do for the day.
I don’t have a start and end time for work!
I start the day and if I’m in the zone I milk it for everything it’s got. If it’s one of those days where small things are going wrong and I struggle to get in the zone I’ll read a book, watch the latest launch video, grab a coffee and try again in an hour or two. As an entrepreneur I believe I have to be flexible. I’m a player in a game and have to be constantly looking for the 20% of my efforts that are working and work more on those. Sometimes a rigid time management system doesn’t work. You may feel like you are busy, but you are busy with the wrong things.
Ian McConnell is a regular VBL reader and supporter. He’s built a full time income online in the last 3 years. Check him out at https://inmyhomeoffice.com, where you’ll also find links to him on Twitter and Facebook!