6 tips for goal focused project leaders
By Alicia Amerson
Your To-do List Isn't the Enemy!
Have you wondered how other project leaders make it all work?
Here are a few tips that will help you focus on your goals.
Maintaining focus on your goals is hard - like really hard. I don't need to tell you, though; you are a project leader. You are already doing a juggling act with email, calendars, websites, social media, making content; all the while trying to balance on a tightrope where there is a stack of proposals, grant applications, and clients that are constantly revolving.
How can you possibly know what and how to prioritize when everything is the most important task of your day?
When you start to feel the slide turn quickly towards a deep dive into the inefficiency rut you can use these six steps to focus on your goals and accomplish your mission. I will admit this will take time out of your day to organize, but it is worth every minute!
TIP #1 Make a list of all the projects and to-dos on your list right now
Think of this like cleaning out your closet and you have to look at every single item of clothes that you own.
Literally include every little task from calling a client to planning content, maybe you need to invoice a customer or take time to order your new 2019 day planner. No task is to small.
TIP #2 Order each task by value they provide to your business
How do you describe value in your business? Is it engagement on social media? Is it more people joining your closed Facebook group? Is it your client's perception? Is it increasing your partnerships?
No matter how you look at these you want the end result to be in monetary value. You can't pay your staff or research wildlife with social media engagement, but if those people love, know, and trust your company, they will refer you to others.
Referrals turn into new customers, simply put the positive word of mouth impacts your bottom line.
When you review value you might think about it in terms of the most profitable task per hour spent, whether directly or indirectly. When weighing a task that does not have a specific dollar value attached against those that do can be tricky, so you can develop a point system to manage each of these tasks.
For example, you may choose to focus on client work which will bring in money to support your business. But when you use a point system to access value, you realize that each partnership you make in your network brings in 2 to 3 new clients. The value of networking doubles or triples your bottomline. Also remember the customer's perception may bring you more leads to grow your business. You will need to quantify the reach and impact when it comes to tasks that are less tangible. To get started assign more points to tasks that have the farthest reach or impact the most people than the tasks that produce minimal results.
TIP #3 Get bold and ask what will be the impact of NOT doing a certain task.
This is a great way to help you differentiate priorities when they all seem to be urgent or competing for your time. That blog post or update to social media can possibly wait if you have an opportunity to grow a new audience by interviewing a top industry influencer on your podcast!
TIP #4 Trust you will get more done in the end with a clear path and maintaining focus
Training ourselves to think a new way or create a new habit is difficult. This is because our instincts tell us to avoid change. Our subconscious minds are trying to protect us from pain, so breaking free from bad habits is difficult.
So repetition and believing we can train ourselves to do something in a new way will take time but we can do it.
Simply take a deep breath, a full to the top of the lungs breath, and exhale all that does not serve you. Commit to this three more times. Each time holding the breath for a few seconds at the top before fully letting go.
When we have too much going on at one time we forget to take a breath and this is massively ineffective for getting things done. You lose track of what you're doing and your attention is divided making mistakes and moving too quickly between tasks.
To get started on the "less is more" mantra...
When you feel focus waning go ahead and say this mantra 10 times.
While you say it close your eyes, relax, and take deep breaths and slowly exhale.
"It is easy for me to focus. I focus effortlessly. I am very good at focusing. I am increasing the amount of time I can focus everyday and every way. I see myself finishing my tasks and it feels good."
Now that you've done this do you notice how good you actually feel?
TIP #5 Classify the difference between urgent and important
The high-value tasks in your list will be placed in a 2x2 matrix. This matrix was an idea popularized by Stephen Covey called the Time Management Matrix.
You will create a similar table where you will place each of your tasks in one of four categories.
- Urgent/Not important
- Not Urgent/Important
- Not Urgent/ Not important
By outlining your tasks you will no longer feel like you are running from the next urgent task to the other. Although you may feel like you are getting caught up in small details that are causing you to lose focus on your goals. Here are a few examples:
6.) Take action by narrowing it down
Congratulations! You have narrowed down your list of tasks, prioritized them, and you’ve enabled yourself to complete them. Now pick the top 5 tasks. And from there, narrow it to the top 3. Take a breath....Everything else on your list can wait.
How long will depend on the size and scope of your projects. Place those items on a separate list and title it “You Next In Line list”. Don’t worry, these items won’t wait forever. You’ve created a more efficient process that will allow you to get a LOT more done.
Now that you know what steps to take, you can walk through them each time you need to determine what you need to focus on and what can wait. Regular prioritizing and calendaring accordingly will help you run your business more effectively. So make your lists, block out time, and get to work!
Let’s continue this conversation in the comments section. Do you have any tried-and-true methods you use to keep laser-focus on your goals?
Alicia is enthusiastic about wildlife projects. Her mission is to promote the amazing people who are working to protect wildlife from extinction and bring awareness to how successful projects can make a difference around the world.