Achieving long-term goals is hard work.
Especially if you are caught up on the treadmill of running from one urgent task to the next.
If you feel anxious, stressed or overwhelmed about all the stuff on your to-do list, then you will want to start with the NOW Checklist from The Ultimate Goal Setting Checklist.
The NOW Checklist covers three fundamental productivity principles:
First, you can’t perform at your best if your mind is racing from one task to the next.
Second, you can’t achieve your goals if you don’t intentionally choose your highest priority.
Third, you can’t step off the treadmill unless you build awareness about what’s distracting you in the first place.
Let’s dive a little deeper into each one.
The first two items from the NOW Checklist are “I do not multitask” and “I’ve distraction proofed my environment.”
Both of these activities are essential to creating a distraction-free environment to allow you to perform at your best.
Multitasking is the ultimate productivity killer. Numerous studies have proven that people that multitask (switch between more than one task at a time) are far less productive than those that stick to one task at a time.
If you think that you are exempt to the multitasking rule, you are lying to yourself. The bottom line is that if you are switching between multiple tasks, it’s actually taking you longer to finish everything on your list then if you completed one task at a time.
So stop multitasking and only work on one thing at a time.
Your attention is your most valuable thing in the world.
Companies like Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon invest billions of dollars each year to distract you. They want your attention, and they are very good at getting it.
While these companies have great products, they are all platforms for social media, email, notifications, and advertising, which distract us and pull us away from achieving our goals.
This is why it’s essential that we distraction proof our environment.
Pause & Breath
The next two items from the NOW Checklist are “I take a moment to pause and notice my breath between each task” and “When ready, I intentionally choose the task that requires my full attention.”
Managing your state in the moment is the key to unlocking peak performance. Professional athletes go to great lengths to master their emotions as it enables them to bounce back and enter flow when it’s needed the most.
Anytime that you find that you are caught up racing from moment to moment, the simple act of pausing and taking a breath can go a long way to calm the mind and relax the body.
Once you’ve calmed the mind, it’s now time to choose the task requires your full attention. This is the moment you would review your to-do list and intentionally choose the next most important task.
Anytime when you are not sure what to next, ask yourself the magical question from the book “The ONE Thing” by Gary Keller. “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
We will continue to dive deeper into the todo list and determining priorities within the other checklists.
The last three items from the NOW Checklist work together to notice and choose how we react and deal with distractions.
Even with the best intentions, you will get distracted. This is how our brain works. Instead of fighting it, you want to approach it with a sense of curiosity.
While writing this article, I’m being pulled in many directions, I want to refill my coffee, I want to check my iPad, and I hear the family starting to wake up.
Simply make a note and be mindful of what is grabbing your attention.
I can be pretty hard on myself.
As these distractions come up, I can choose to beat myself for not having the discipline and willpower to follow through, or I can use them as an opportunity for growth.
It’s times like these where I pause and take a breath to calm the mind and relax the body.
There’s no long-term value in getting stressed out about this.
Sometimes things will happen that will require you to drop what you are doing and need to be addressed now.
You can either choose to either stay distracted or turn your attention back to the previous activity.
Remove Reoccurring Distractions
What do you do about those reoccurring distractions that keep coming up again and again?
Yup, you heard me, get excited!
It’s time to get excited because you now have something to work with.
Find something about this distraction that is within your control and deal with it.
If it’s refilling your coffee, make sure you have a full cup before starting your next task.
If it’s wanting to check your email, turn off notifications or disconnect from the internet.
If it’s other people interrupting you, change the time or location of working on your most critical tasks.
Anytime that you identify a reoccurring distraction that is preventing you from accomplishing your goals, do something within your control to deal with it.
As you can see, the NOW Checklist covers a lot of ground in the area of goal setting and achievement.
First, stop multi-tasking and distraction proof your environment to set yourself up for success.
Second, manage your state (stop and breath) and intentionally choose your highest priority in each moment.
Third, be mindful of what is distracting you and do something within your control to deal with it.
In the next article in this series, I will show you how to make measurable progress on your goals, each and every day.
P.S. What’s one thing that you are going to apply today? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Post your comment below.
The Ultimate Goal Setting Checklist
Everything you need to know about setting goals that you can actually achieve.