April 18, 2021

“All distractions are equal.” – Leslie Zann

In the last blog, we discussed the revolutionary approach to reaching your Big Goals presented by Gary Keller and Jay Papsan in their amazing book The One Thing.  (Keller is the co-founder of Keller-Williams Real Estate, the largest real estate company in the world.)

The authors say you must make your Big Goal the ONE priority in your professional life and then focus daily on the ONE Thing you must do to reach it.  First, determine what specific actions you must take each day, each week and each month and then block the time in your appointment planner to allow yourself to focus on carrying out those actions without interruption.

Bottom line: Productivity is the KEY to success and TIME BLOCKING is the key to productivity. 

But, as we all know, focusing on anything during your workday without interruption is a challenge.  Just ask any parent of school age children who is working from home during the pandemic.  But even if you are lucky enough to be working in an office, there are plenty of distractions from colleagues who try to hang out at your cubicle or a boss who has an urgent question or just the usual lineup of office meetings that are 20% useful and 80% wasted time.

What, then, can you do to consistently follow your One Thing plan to be productive in pursuing your Big Goal? The key is to develop a STRATEGY and adopt the right MINDSET. Here’s how:

Protect Your Time Block

First and foremost, you must commit to protecting your Time Block.  The authors say, “The world doesn’t know your purpose or priorities and isn’t responsible for them – you are.  So it’s your job to protect your time blocks from all those who don’t know what matters to you, and from yourself when you forget…The best way to protect your time blocks is to adopt the mindset that they can’t be moved.  So, when someone tries to double-book you, just say, ‘I’m sorry, I already have an appointment at that time’ and offer other options.”

But we know that’s tough when the requester is a high-level person in your life: “How do you say no to anyone important – your boss, a key client, your mom – who asks you to do something with a high sense of urgency?  One way is to say YES and then ask, ‘If I have that done by [a specific time in the future], would that work?’ Most often these requests are more about an immediate need to hand a task off than about a need for it to be done immediately, so the requester usually just wants to know it will get done.”

But what if the request really IS urgent and it comes at the time you have blocked to be productively working on your ONE Thing that day? “In this situation, follow the rule ‘If you erase, you must replace’ and immediately reschedule your time block.”

I agree!  I have always recommended to my coaching clients that they leave at least one hour of unscheduled “white space” in their planner each day.  Then if something comes along that truly MUST be handled during their Time Block, they can use their free hour to make up that ONE Thing productivity time.  If nothing gets in the way, they can reward themselves for their productivity with an hour of “Me Time” to do whatever they want!

Finally, you must overcome your own Ego’s constant preference for keeping you “safe” by keeping you from carrying out your One Thing plan for the day.

“The key” the authors assert, “is to fully internalize the domino fall that will happen when your ONE Thing gets done, and remember that everything else you might do or have to do will be easier or unnecessary.”  The authors even helpfully include a colorful little sign you can pull out of the book and hang on your office door handle that says “In case I can’t say NO, this sign will have to do it for me.”

The Four Thieves of Productivity

Keller and Papasan warn that there are “four thieves of productivity” that can stop you from accomplishing your Big Goals and they tell you exactly how to avoid each of them:

1) The first thief is an inability to say “NO” – This comes as no surprise to us recovering People Pleasers! “Peers will ask for your advice and help. Co-workers will want you on their team. Friends will request your assistance. Strangers will seek you out.  Invitations and interruptions will come at you from everywhere imaginable. How you handle all of this determines the time you’re able to devote to your ONE Thing and the results you’re ultimately able to produce.” The solution is to respectfully say NO promptly, and (if you can) give them a lead to someone who might help them. Bottom line: “If you can’t say no a lot, you’ll never truly be able to say yes to achieving your ONE Thing. Literally, it’s one or the other – and you get to decide.”

2) The second Thief of productivity is the Fear of Chaos. “Focusing on ONE Thing has a guaranteed consequence: other things don’t get done…Other areas of your life may experience chaos in direct proportion to the time you put in on your ONE Thing.  It’s important for you to accept it instead of fighting it.”

During a very busy fourth quarter of 2020, my home office looked like a war zone.  It was hard to go in there each day, stepping over piles of binders and folders and seeing the dust bunnies in the corners. But I put blinders on and did my One Thing each day because I knew a pristine office wasn’t going to make me successful.  Eventually, we always get a chance to catch up on the truly critical things.  When things quieted down during the Holidays, I was able to devote a half day to cleaning and organizing my office. That felt great, but not as great as what I had accomplished toward my Big Goal.

3) The third Thief is Poor Health Habits. This is the opposite of their advice about putting up with chaos for a while in order to do your One Thing.  You can never put your health on hold  while you pursue your dreams. “Personal energy mismanagement is a silent thief of productivity.  When we keep borrowing against our future by poorly protecting our energy, there is a predictable outcome of either slowly running out of gas or prematurely crashing and burning.”  Instead, here is the authors’ Highly Productive Person’s Daily Energy Plan:

  • Meditate and pray for spiritual energy.
  • Eat right, exercise and sleep sufficiently for physical energy.
  • Hug, kiss and laugh with loved ones for emotional energy.
  • Set goals, plan and calendar for mental energy.
  • Time block your ONE Thing for business energy.

4) The fourth Thief is an Environment that Doesn’t Support Your Goals. Our physical surroundings and especially the people we surround ourselves with influence our health, our mindset and ultimately our level of success. “Surrounding yourself with the right people is the right thing to do.  While attitude thieves will rob you of your energy, effort and resolve, supportive people will do what they can to encourage or assist you.  Ultimately, being with success-minded people creates what researchers call a ‘positive spiral of success’ where they lift you up and send you on your way….Hanging out with people who seek success will strengthen your motivation and positively push your performance.”

The authors strongly recommend getting an Accountability Partner to support you in reaching your Big Goal.  They say that a professional Coach makes the BEST Accountability Partner, but you can also ask a trusted colleague or friend to keep you honest and on track. “An accountability partner will positively impact your productivity…. Just knowing they are waiting for your next progress report can spur you to better results. Ideally, a coach can ‘coach’ you on how to maximize your performance over time.  This is how the very best become the very best.  You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who achieves extraordinary results without [a Coach].”

There you have it — your foolproof Formula for Success: If you are committed to reaching your Big Goals, spend your working hours identifying the ONE Thing you must do each day to reach them, don’t let the Four Thieves waylay you, and get support in holding yourself accountable for doing what you promised to do.

Above all, remember no one succeeds alone and no one fails alone and, in the words of comedian Lily Tomlin, “The road to success is always under construction!”

Coaching Results

“Caroll has been very helpful in guiding me to clarify what my most important goals are, what they mean to me and why they are important.  Learning to focus on the important things makes me more efficient and able to get there faster.  It’s a huge stress reliever to know where you want to go and the necessary steps to get there.” – June G., Realtor ™

I want to be of service to YOU and your friends, colleagues and loved ones! To schedule a F*R*E*E, no-obligation one-hour Success Breakthrough Session by phone that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION on making them a reality, please email me while I still have openings at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com

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