Do the ‘did’ instead of the ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’.
As an entrepreneur of multiple ventures – music production, producing several top podcasts in iTunes, coaching multiple clients, active administrative roles and contributing to various focus groups – I can see how difficult it can be to focus on one thing at a time. I feel it’s so easy to cling to short attention habits that really hinder our productivity as creatives. Distraction is everywhere, even for people who are too busy for procrastination. Getting caught up in doing too many things at once is an everyday occurrence for most people who are turning their hobby into a business.
“Multi-tasking is merely the opportunity to screw more than one thing up at a time” – Steve Uzzell
The book ‘The One Thing’ grabbed my attention. Gary Keller and Jay Papasan have tailored the importance of focusing on, wait for it….. ‘one thing’ at once. They do an awesome job at debunking multi-tasking and shutting down your should-do list in favour of your must-do list. Gary starts the book by talking about the Weijers dominos experiment, where a world record of 4.5 million dominos fell in line, generating 94,000 joules of energy, the equivalent of completing 545 pushups, all from one thing – the first domino falling. If you were to further the experiment by doubling the size of the domino each time it would only take 37 dominos to tower Mount Everest. If your goals in your business look crushing, maybe you should be questioning what small action you could take today to topple your mountain.
Every time we get distracted it can take us hours to get back on track and in to that flow again. At least a third of a day can be spent recovering and trying to catch up on the momentum we’ve lost, had we not had to split our focus. It’s an obvious point to suggest disciplining our actions but with a new thought popping into our heads every 14 seconds, it’s easy to let temptation change our course. Whether it’s suppressing and resisting – aggression, emotion, impulses, temptation – or dealing with fear such as taking a test or doing things we don’t enjoy. Our willpower isn’t our strongest asset.
“People do not decide their future, they decide their habits and their habits decide their future” – F.M. Alexander.
Habit forming is a better tool. We only need enough discipline to form a new habit and the easiest to form is regularly reaching for that one small thing you can do right now, in this moment, that moves you further to your bigger goals. Concentrating on a smaller short-term strategy will be less exhausting on your will-power and it will provide momentum as you get rolling through your small should-do list – one at a time!
By focusing on the ‘one thing’ I do and then the one thing I need to accomplish this year, I can prioritize the one thing I can do this month, this week, today and this hour to keep me in-line with my ‘one thing’ that is me and my bigger goals. Prioritisation needs to originate from the one thing that makes everything else easy or even pointless. So think big about what you want to achieve and instead of putting it off or being too intimidated to start, start with what you CAN do right now. The word ‘can’ does things over words like ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’ don’t come close to, it’s one step closer to DID, and you only get there by DOING. By being focused in your efforts, you can put purpose and priority behind what you’re doing.
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you sit there long enough” – Will Rogers.
So we are distracted and we need to prioritise, this means we have to say ‘no’ to a whole bunch of things that either we should do, could do, would like to do or others would like for us to do for them. Saying yes just because you can’t bring yourself to say no is something you’re going to have to challenge if you want to see your bigger picture reach its full potential. It really is impossible to please everyone and the most successful creators know this. If you’re a yes person your day will fill up with jobs you planned to say no to. This is time you’ll never get back and you’ll be left wondering why your competition is more successful than you.
I’m a big fan of balance; you’ll often hear me talk about the need for a healthy life balance. In this context, we can see how if you’re working you need to be 100% working, same for your rest and play. If you’re dipping in and out then that is a distraction from your purpose, without priority there can be no success. Success only happens at the extremes so give your ‘one thing’ the 100% it needs.