Normally, I love this time of the year. November is beginning and I love how it stops raining (I´m in El Salvador), and how the Windy season starts to make way for Christmass. The air suddenly smells pure, and everything has a different shade or coloring. I feel happier during the last part of the year.
But… and it is a big BUT…
I am feeling anxious. The year is almost over, and one of my biggest goals for this year, which was to finish a Novel I am writing, has stalled.
I don´t know what happened… I made a determination that this year I would finish the novel… What happened? I lied to myself.
The year has gone, and NADA, I have writen half of it. I´ve been writing the damn thing for two years now… TWO! Both years, I had the same Goal set. I set up a time frame, that I needed to finish by october. Crap…I made it halfway!
So what happened!?
I set up a Goal.
And, to set a goal, you must predict the future, more or less, and be able to say: “Yes I can manage it, for that time frame…” The thing is, that it seems easy enough. Like Cause and Effect.
Effect = Write the novel
Cause = Work it out!
But, as soon as you start working at it, and set up your tasks to get to the goal, then you start to have trouble. You start to interrupt your tasks because everything else has to be done in between… For example, you need to make some calls, or have a meeting that was not programmed, etc.
I tried to make a task for each day to write for my novel 30 minutes, or more… What happened? In reality, I could not even write 5 minutes for some days, and even nothing most of the days. I started each day with the notion that I hadn´t worked on my novel, but what could I do, if the other unprogrammed tasks were more important?
Maybe the problem was that I didn´t have a writing habit?! Wrong. I do…I love to write, and during this time i´ve written for this blog, and been able to write two Energy Psychology manuals or books in the process. I´m currently finishing them up! So, I do have made a writing habit.
What happened is that the unprogrammed tasks take time out of the programmed tasks. Each day, you program your tasks for the day. I usually did program the tasks from the most important, or from the specified time frame to the unspecified time framed tasks. But the problem is that the unprogrammed tasks keep taking your time away… calls, meetings, emails, etc.
What do you need to do then?
Batch processing is way better
If you perform different tasks, dont multi-task!… Batch process your different tasks by types! For example: you may allocate some time to batch process your emails. I usually do emails in the morning before giving my classes, during lunch time, and in the afternoon.
I write for this blog, during the afternoon. I do different Administrative stuff, after lunch, at the university.
The thing is to process same types of information, at the same time. If you do different things at the same time, you will disperse your attention, efforts and misuse your time.
As David Allen explains it in his book Getting Things Done:
“Most of the stress people experience comes from inappropriately managed commitments they make or accept. Every single one of them- big or little- is being tracked by a less-than-conscious part of you. These are the “incompletes,” or “open loops,” which I define as anything pulling at your attention that doesn´t belong where it is, the way it is. Open loops can include anything from really big to do items, to the tinniest task” p.12
It takes 15 to 20 minutes to focus your attention on each new task, or activity… so Imagine what happens when you do various activities at the same time?
Forget about daily tasks; focus your attention on projects
Instead of having daily tasks; you must gather your activities according to their types, and try to make them fit into a single project. For example, I have set my daily tasks to different projects.
Each project will have its various tasks, but united into that single project. If I have set a project for writing my book… I will have different tasks inside that project. For example, design the cover, write up the index, finish chapter 11, etc. I may have another project for writing this blog, and a project for making an info-product, etc. That way, you will become a project manager, and have more control.
Focus on your process and not the outcome
Alabama Coach Nick Saban, explains at this article of the NY Times, that it is better to focus on your process, and not the outcome.
“Well, the process is really what you have to do day in and day out to be successful,” he said. “We try to define the standard that we want everybody to sort of work toward, adhere to, and do it on a consistent basis. And the things that I talked about before, being responsible for your own self-determination, having a positive attitude, having great work ethic, having discipline to be able to execute on a consistent basis, whatever it is you’re trying to do, those are the things that we try to focus on, and we don’t try to focus as much on the outcomes as we do on being all that you can be.”
If you focus all your attention to your process, then you will always get great outcomes! For instance, if I am a writer… the Goal would be to write the novel… but the system would be my writing schedule that I follow, or my writing technique, etc. So if I focus on any of them, I will definitely have greater chances to getting my novel done!
“We place unnecessary stress on ourselves to lose weight or to succeed in business or to write a best-selling novel. Instead, you can keep things simple and reduce stress by focusing on the daily process and sticking to your schedule, rather than worrying about the big, life-changing goals.”
By focusing 100% on your process, and not the outcome, you will get your life-changing goals! So happy process setting!
Photo by Cathredfern